Podcast Review #4: Harvey

Title: Harvey
Author: Phil Rossi
Genre: Horror
Released: 2 July 2009 – 22 October 2009
Located: Podiobooks, iTunes, Author’s site
Formats Available: Podcast only

Well, as I start my fourth podcast review, I am beginning to believe one of two things: I am always right and nail every single review the same as you would if you had reviewed them yourself, or I haven’t aimed for enough controversy. Knowing that controversy is my middle name, I guess I’ll have to go with the former.

Soon after I found and devoured Billibub Baddings and the Case of the Singing Sword, I began vigorously hunting down podcast fiction in all shapes and forms. My favorite genre in dead tree format has always been fantasy and science fiction (yes, there IS a difference). In this hunt I stumbled upon Phil Rossi. At the time, he was in the midst of his original fiction podcast Crescent. As soon as I began Crescent, I knew Rossi would be scaring people for years to come.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis (Stolen from the author’s site): Television singing sensation Calvin Hubbard has been caught with his hand in cookie jar. An illicit affair with a contest judge costs him not only the competition crown, but his musical credibility as well. Fleeing the media fallout, Calvin exiles himself to the backwoods town of Harvey, Virginia. With a little solitude and a lot of cheap beer, he plans to write the next great rock and roll album and resurrect his career. But Calvin doesn’t know that a man has just been buried alive in the woods outside of town, and that this quiet murder is just the first in a string of macabre events. As the town goes silently mad around him, Calvin is unable to abandon the record of his dreams. Drunk on inspiration and blinded by an inexplicable lust, he careens headlong into the maelstrom, only to discover that he may be the town’s only salvation. Something is alive in the trees—an ageless, nameless evil—and it’s coming for everyone in Harvey. Now Calvin has to decide whether to run or to stay and fight… if it isn’t already too late.

Production: I have to admit something now. I am jealous of every single podcaster I have reviewed. Each one has shown mad production skills. I might have the skill, but I don’t have the equipment or a single quiet place in my house. Rossi is no different from the other three I have reviewed in this regard. Perhaps his skills as a more than competent musician come into play, or perhaps he has friends that gave great advice, or maybe even he is just a genius. Seriously, I don’t know, but I do know that the production of Harvey would be hard to beat. If you find yourself being convinced to listen to Harvey, the production quality will be a great experience. And before I end the production section, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Zeus Legion. Perfect voice, sets the perfect tone. “Caveat: audieeeence…”

Oh… HARVEY HAS NO “THE STORY SO FAR” …. Just saying. (Yippeee!)

Cast: The cast for Harvey is PERFECT. Of course that could be because it consists of only Mr. Rossi. He has a great speaking voice that is perfect for the narration of this type of story. When listening to Rossi, his voice always reminds me of a mix of Christian Slater and Jack Nicholson. Like I said, perfect for these kinds of stories.

Story: Rossi currently has three fiction podcasts complete. Crescent, a short work called Eden, and Harvey. Of the three, Harvey is by far and away my favorite. Not that I didn’t enjoy Crescent and Eden. I did. However, Harvey provided me with something I’ve never experienced before while listening to a podcast. He truly spooked me. Yeah, I might have been tired. It might even have been because of the noise canceling earphones. I don’t care. Shivers and goosebumps.

“Hey, wait. Never been spooked by a podcast before? Don’t you listen to Scott Sigler?” Yes, I do. I think I’ve listened to every podcast he has ever written/produced and I own the print edition of The Rookie. I enjoy Mr. Sigler’s writing very much, but for me, Harvey is way creepier.

Like any good horror story, I can’t place my finger on the one element that pushed Harvey over the top for me. The characters are solid. The tone of the book constantly works towards placing you in a dark room without the benefit of your security blanket. The reading would raise goosebumps on a slab of marble. Roll these, and many things that I haven’t mentioned, into the equation, and if you like being unnerved, Phil Rossi has a story for you.

Verdict: I don’t think it should surprise anyone when i say Harvey is not minivan friendly. There is sex, violence, attempted rape, murder and a psychotic teenager named Tee (truly scary). There is a palpable malevolence as well. I really wouldn’t recommend this for anyone that doesn’t enjoy being frightened. Harvey isn’t gruesome, blood and guts horror. Harvey plays on your fears of the dark, and the monsters that still live there, no matter how old you are. Keeping that in mind, if you enjoy your horror based on the things that go bump in the night and are better not looked at by light of day, subscribe to Harvey now. They don’t get any better than this.

NEXT: Weather Child by Philippa J. Ballantine

~ by odin1eye on 23 November, 2009.

10 Responses to “Podcast Review #4: Harvey”

  1. “Harvey isn’t gruesome, blood and guts horror.”

    You’ve hit on why Sigler didn’t creep you out. Love the FDO, but he’s at his best when he makes you do “EWWWWWWW”. Rossi does atmospheric much, much mo betta.

    And yes, Harvey is my favorite too. Crescent was too dark. Eden was good but seemed too short somehow. Harvey was perfection.

    • Although I like Sigler, I’ve never been much of a fan of slasher horror. The FDO isn’t truly slasher, but still has that knee jerk response. Kind of like Clive Barker (as was pointed out to me recently). Definitely not a bad thing. However, I prefer the terror of the mind, which I believe Rossi has a propensity for. As always, thanks for the comment! You’ve now got 2 chances in the contest!

  2. Phil Rossi’s got that good Southern Gothic thing going on — it’s real horror (fear of the alien, abominable, and creeping), rather than terror (fear for one’s life/health). I love it, for the same reason I find Serling and Bradbury far more frightening then most of Lincoln Child’s or Stephen King’s stuff. Excellent review!

    • Thanks for the comment Dan! I am glad you enjoyed it and although I thought of comparing Harvey against a King novel, I couldn’t put my finger on whom to compare it to. You nailed it. Thanks again!

  3. Let me preface by saying I haven’t heard this podcast, however my first impression is that it has a lot in common with a couple of made for TV type movies I’ve seen on the SciFi channel. And of course now that I speak of them, i can’t for the life of me remember their titles. Is it just a rehashing of Twilight zone plots?

    I kind of get irritated if it seems like it’s a ‘cover’ of an old movie/show.

    • Hi Allie and thanks for the comment. While I can agree that I oft get miffed a remix of another show or series, I can honestly say that I have never heard/seen anything like Harvey. Harvey was truly original in most details. Yes, I have before heard stories of outsiders coming into situations that are out of their control and yet in which they are thrown in the midst, but that is true of many stories of all genres. I can’t think of anything that Harvey might be a copy of, but would happily do a comparison if any eventually come to mind.

      Again, I believe Harvey is totally fresh and original and that it is a very good story for the type and style that it is.

  4. I haven’t commented till now because I wanted to hear the story in it’s entirety before weighing in on this now dusty discussion. Having done so I must admit that I didn’t find anything scary in the story after the man was buried alive and as scary as that was it still had a more “Dude, that sucks” feel to it.

    Yes, Mr. Rossi has a great voice and does a terrific job narrating the story but many of interesting pieces introduced to the listener seem almost meaningless by the end of the story. Also, regarding the conclusion of the story, I was left, yet again, with a feeling that explanations were left missing on too many key elements. It may be the author’s attempt to make the listener wonder if it’s really over or does the future for the town of Harvey hold yet more suffering?

    Somehow, though, I don’t think that was Mr. Rossi’s goal.

    My short review would be that the story is like Chinese food. Really good going down but by the end you’re surprised to still be hungry.


    • Thanks Orion for the comment. While far from being my most controversial review, it has still drawn some discussion. Which I love. Truly.

      I can’t say why, perhaps because I grew up surrounded by trees and “rednecks” (affectionately stated) Harvey resonated with me.

      Like all stories, some will speak to an audience more than another. That is unimportant to me in the larger view, but reasons are VERY important to me. You provide valid reasoning, and just because I didn’t have the same issues, it doesn’t make them any less valid.

      Thanks for the comment and I hope the next story grabs you a bit more strongly!

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