RogerBW's Blog

The Whisperer in Darkness 23 December 2019

2019 audio drama, adapted in eight parts by Julian Simpson from the story by H. P. Lovecraft. Henry Akeley has vanished from his home near Rendlesham Forest, and the podcasters investigate.

As with the previous Julian Simpson production of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, the story's been not just updated to the modern day, transplanted to England, and converted to an audio drama, but essentially rewritten from scratch using the original as inspiration.

Things do carry on from that previous production, though; there are some reminders of what went on, but quite a few names from before are mentioned in passing and it's a good idea to know what they signify. If you can, listen to that before listening to this.

So yes, there are ultimately Mi-Go here (though not as they were in the original story), but there's also the Rendlesham Forest Incident of 1980, EVP, the Babalon Working, and stranger things; but also ECHELON and other contacts with the creepier parts of the real world. There's an interesting hierarchy of Lovecraftiana which explains at least some of the cultic attitude, which I think works quite well… though things do get a bit Derlethian at times, with a second conspiracy opposed to the cultists that are trying to summon Elder Gods in order to gain power and wealth and so on.

I suppose that's inevitable: if only one side has the establishment supporting it, it's hard for heroic investigators to make much progress (especially when they aren't particularly heroic, or at least aren't as carefree as most player characters). For GMs looking for motivation for their investigators, this adaptation does a good job of striking the balance between "we can see that this is clearly very dangerous" and "we almost know enough to make a difference".

There's a large cast; I found this version of Albert Wilmarth particularly interesting, as the local vicar and one of the few people to have known Akeley at all well before his disappearance.

All in all, highly recommended as a continuation of the story; this time things have been left more open for a possible sequel, and I hope that it's made.

The Whisperer in Darkness is available via the BBC. (If you don't have get_iplayer, you can apparently download it via the BBC Sounds app.)

Tags: audio reviews

See also:
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

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