By now you should know that I love short story podcasts, and I love audiobooks, but what happens when you fuse the two together? What happens is that you get Podiobooks, audiobooks that are serialized as podcast episodes. You can find many great podiobooks, available totally free of charge or DRM, from places such as Podiobooks.com and LibriVox.
Today we’re going to tackle one of the first podiobooks I ever listened to: Camp Myth, Phoenix Watching by Chris Lewis Carter. It follows Felix the Fae, Argee the Cyclops and Moxie the Kitsune; they are attending a special summer camp for mythological creatures called Camp Myth. The goal of Camp Myth is to foster understanding and cooperation across species. To this end, campers are encouraged to earn merit badges in groups of three or more. Our trio are determined to earn their first merit badge in phoenix watching.
This podiobook is brought to us by the good folks behind the Parsec Award winning podcast Cast of Wonders. It was split into fifteen episodes of their podcast, and even has a special section of their website all to itself. However, if you’re more of a physical books kind of person, you can easily purchase a copy of the book on Amazon. However, for the purposes of this review we’re going to focus on the Cast of Wonders production. To start, we’re going to focus on the plot and characters themselves.
Okay, there’s a bit of an elephant in the room, so let’s get it out of the way. It is pretty obvious that Percy Jackson and the Olympians had a fairly significant influence on this book. It also seems pretty obvious that Carter was attempting to replicate the feel of the Percy Jackson series. That having been said, I hesitate to call this a rip-off. There’s enough differences between the two series to keep things interesting. Not just that, but frankly, at this point shouting rip-off has become fairly cliche. Everything’s going to be influenced by something else, and personally, I find it more interesting to look at the ways two series are different rather than how they are similar. In fact, that this book is similar to Percy Jackson made it even more intriguing to me.
I really liked how the book brought together creatures from across mythology. We’re got Celtic Fae, Greek Cyclops, Japanese Kitsune, Jewish Golems and many other creatures intermingling with each other. It was also a nice touch that most of the action actually took place at the camp rather than moving elsewhere. I think I related with Argee the most because of how nervous and awkward he was. Moxie was a fun and spunky character, and the fact that she’s a Kitsune was a nice touch. However, I found Felix to be a little bland and lacking in personality. It felt like he was mostly just there as a window into this world for the audience. The writing does have a YA feel to it, but definitely more on the younger end of YA.
Now let’s talk about Cast of Wonder’s production of the book. Cast of Wonders pulled out all the stops to produce this book with a full cast narration. How well each narrator handled there character, well, that tended to vary. Marguerite Kenner gave a spot on performance as Moxie. In fact, all of the female narrator did a great job with their characters. Adam Black’s take on Loam really captured how I imagined a golem would speak. Alasdair Stuart capture’s Argee’s personality; he might come across as sounding a tad too old, but that was actually kind of perfect for me due to how Argee looks like he has a mustache in the official art.
As for Graeme Dunlop’s performance as Felix, well, I had some issues with that. Now, let me start off by saying that Graeme did a reasonably good job of capturing Felix’s cadences and personality, and he certainly gave it his best shot. Unfortunately, Graeme’s gentle grandfatherly voice just doesn’t quite match up and makes Felix sound far too old. On the whole, though, I’d say that Cast of Wonders’ production worked out quite well. They even allowed listeners to submit their own campers to be featured at the end of each episode.
So what’s my verdict on this one? Taking everything into account I’m going to have to say this book was…okay. What I means is that, though it had a lot of good things going for it, on the whole I just didn’t find it to stood out from the crowd that much. It wasn’t the best book I’ve ever listened to, but it certainly wasn’t the worst. It’s spread out over fifteen relatively short episodes, so even if you don’t care for it you won’t lose much time. At the very least it is worth checking out.
Part of why I decided to review Camp Myth, Phoenix Watching is because of how it represents some of the very exciting things going on in the world of podcasting. Podcast story telling is increasingly gaining prominence, and podiobooks like Camp Myth show just how far the medium can go. Just look at Infected by Scott Sigler, it started out as a podiobook before getting picked up by a major publishing company. Similarly, there’s Andy Weir success story with his novel The Martian. In short, it is a very exciting time to be a writer.
Now that I’ve got your attention I’ve got some very exciting news, and it has to do with The Moonlit Road. Do you remember that Boo Hag story I reviewed? Well, a longtime fan of The Moonlit Road adapted that story into a song, and The Moonlit Road posted this song to their website. Give it a listen, it’s really quite good.
Second, and a bit more importantly, I’m very happy to announce I’ve just published my first story with The Moonlit Road. It’s called Irwin Tarheel and the Fair Folk, and you can read it right now. I think you’re really going to enjoy it, but then, I am the author. I’ve got the feeling that this is the start of many more great stories to come from yours truly.
Well gang, I hope you had fun once again, and I will see you next time.