Podcast Review #72: House of Grey


originally published March 14, 2011

Title: House of Grey
Author: Collin Earl
Genre: Fantasy
Released: 5 September 2008 – 7 March 2010
Located: Podiobooks, iTunes
Formats Available: podcast only
Rating: PG for anime type (and referenced) violence

I have no idea who recommended this podcast to me. Whoever you are, I don’t know whether to thank you or curse you. It was recommended to me quite a while back and I simply never got around to it. Recently, I fixed that.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: 14-year-old Monson Grey faces the same challenges that any freshman high school kid would. Difficult classes, weird teachers, food fights…girls. Except Monson Grey is not Monson Grey. At least, when he looks at himself in the mirror, the scarred face staring back is not someone he recognizes. Now he finds himself attending an extraordinary school, the recipient of an incredible scholarship, among ridiculously rich classmates, and with no memory of how he got there or what to expect. As bizarre events start to unfold around him, Monson wonders what secrets lay locked in his hidden past. Add all this to a mysterious silver stone, an Indiana-Jones-copycat professor, Merlin the wizard, and even Atlantis, and you’ll find yourself in a fantastic tale in which magic does exist and everything is never as it seems. (Stolen from Podiobooks.com)

Production: House of Grey does some things very well. Without getting into the cast (which comes next of course) the producers did some remarkable work with computer altered voicework. I’m usually not a fan of this, but 8 out of 10 times, they did it very, very well. There is a The Story so Far that morphs during the course of the podcast, though never becomes something I enjoyed. In the last ep there is one or two repeated lines. Occasionally, the pieced together audio sounds like exactly what it is, but as the grade shows, never quiet enough to take me out of the moment.

One final note on production. This story has some of the longest eps I’ve ever heard. Many approach an hour and several surpass, with at least one hitting two and a quarter hours of content.

Grade: B+

Cast: The House of Grey was read by Chris Snelgrove. He does a commendable job of voice inflection and personalization of each voice. Yes, even the ladies (which pay a large part). If you choose to listen, you’ll have very little trouble differentiating the characters.

Grade: A-

Story: Occasionally, it is hard for me to distinguish between the “Story” portion of these reviews and the “Verdict”. This particular story is one of the hardest for me to differentiate.

I would label House of Grey a young adult title whether the author would or not. The protagonists are all high school kids in a prestigious west coast school. The violence is much like the anime the characters are hooked on. The problems they face range from the typical high school type of problems to saving the world.

House of Grey is also a story that unwraps as you go along. I love/hate stories that I’m half way through when I’m asked, “What’s it about?” and my only answer can be, “I have no idea.” House of Grey firmly resides in this camp.

Grade: B

Verdict: I LOVED House of Grey. Seriously gang. I know not every story is for everyone, I accept that. However, this story truly resonated with me. I have no idea why. It just did. I am not claiming everything is perfect. The story is bloated. At almost 40 hours of content I’m guessing it is at least 200,000 words and would probably surpass 500 pages in mass market paperback form. I’m also guessing a good editor would probably trim at least a third. That didn’t matter to me. Mr. Snelgrove’s over enthusiastic ep intros annoyed me. That, too, didn’t matter. What it come down to was, I was so enthralled with the story that the writing issues just didn’t matter. And for me, THAT is rare.

By now, you’re probably suspecting that my verdict would be an unqualified listen. And until the last episode, you would have been correct. The last two and a half hour episode. The one that was one huge battle sequence. The one that, with 30 minutes left, you’re beginning to wonder “How is Mr. Earl going to tie this up?” And yes, the one that with three minutes left we forget about trying to tie it up and change the point of view to a highly unlikely cast member and leaves the audience completely in the dark about how ANYTHING in the story is resolved. Let me make this clear. The story does not end. If Tolkien had left us during the scene inside Mount Doom with Frodo and Smeagol wrestling, you might get the idea. I have to admit that my initial reaction to the last episode was anger. But then again, all I really paid for all of these hours of exuberant, thrilling imaginative entertainment was my time.

So, can I recommend House of Grey to you? No. Unfortunately not. I only review finished stories, and I’m sorry to say, that although this story is marked “complete” I would beg to differ. And I cannot recommend this story to you. Why? Perhaps you noticed the first ep dropped over 2.5 years ago and there is no sign of anything new on the horizon. And for the rest.. I ask you to follow me down to the disclosure.

Disclosure: As stated multiple places and multiple times, I keep my twitter feed pretty lean. If I follow you it is because I feel you add something to my stream. A couple of eps before the end, I found and followed Mr. Earl on the basis of how much I enjoyed this story. I don’t recall ever having done that before. Through a few innocuous questions, I have discovered that he is currently planning a rewrite of House of Grey (which as much as I loved it, I agree it needs) before going on book 2. This rewrite is planned to occur in 2012 with part two following sometime after.

~ by odin1eye on 13 January, 2020.

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