Stories, fables and fairytales have long held a special place in the hearts of millions around the world, often passed from generation to generation by word of mouth or through the written word. If you’re from the UK or are a fan of fairytales, then the name Jackanory will undoubtedly conjure many special memories from childhood and beyond.
Well, this week on our trip down the Otaku Rabbit Hole, do we have a treat for you. A little different from our usual content I’ll admit, but this week we’ll be covering Jackanory‘s twisted cousin, the deliciously dark story anthology Hellanory by talented creators Dave Hopkins and Jonathan Smith. Well, without further ado, are you sitting uncomfortably? Then we’ll begin!
What is Hellanory and Why Should You Care?
Hellanory is the comedic brainchild of English-born Dave Hopkins and Jonathan Smith, that’s comprised of six special tales that are seldom as sweet as they first appear. Whether it’s the story of a grandma with a particular talent for assassination rather than knitting, or a cautionary tale of the dangers of toying with canine adrenal extracts, there’s undoubtedly something to appeal to most people in this collection.
Despite this, those of a delicate disposition may struggle a little at times, as the series dances expertly between rib-crackingly funny and heart-breakingly tragic and isn’t afraid to shock as part of its unique charm. By the same logic, while these are modern fables and tales of wonder and woe, they certainly aren’t for children, but that’s far from a bad thing.
These stories are surprisingly insightful, often cutting to the core of relationships and interactions through the inner monologues of their characters. Warts and all, these stories are expertly written bitesize nuggets that transport the listener to a brand new world with each new entry.
No matter how absurd and unlikely the scenario on show, the expert narration and dulcet tones of the narrators (yes, there’s more than one) help ingrain a sense of realism and place into the entire ordeal, all while elevating the characters from mere one-dimensional caricatures to well-developed and interesting individuals. This is such a refreshing take on the oh-so-commonly boring tradition and makes for an irresistibly moreish experience that’s near impossible to stop listening to.
The Hellanory anthology is also an absolute treat for the senses thanks to the inclusion of well-integrated and executed background sounds. The sound design further helps define the worlds of these characters and, just like the stories themselves, have the occasional pop-culture reference – for fans of the Bleach anime, there’s a subtle nod in a later tale that, if you’re anything like me, will bring a very goofy grin to your face!
Not only are the sound effects a phenomenal source for pop-culture references and world crafting sound effects, but the sound design is used to incredible effect when constructing moments of comedic gold. I won’t spoil when or how these moments occur, but trust me, when they drop, you’ll struggle to keep a straight face!
Hellanory is one of the best collections of short stories I’ve listened to in many years. As a fan of audiobooks and spoken word, this is an absolute treat from start to finish. In each and every tale, there will come a moment where the spine-chilling truth that’s lurked just beneath the surface all along is finally revealed, and combining that sinister edge with an otherwise hilarious story, it balances both aspects beautifully, creating its own unique brand of addictive bliss in the process.
Personal favourites of mine were “The Peculiar Case of Nathaniel Fry”, “Surplus Baggage” and “My Name Is Michael Crane”, although, to set any one story above the others is to do a severe injustice to the collection as a whole. If you’re in the market for a collection of fantastic stories that, at 15-20 minutes apiece, are just short enough to fit comfortably into the morning commute or a coffee break, you won’t go far wrong here.
Hellanory‘s first collection may have already reached its end, but the fun is far from over. There’s already a Halloween special that’s just as great as what came before at double the length of a usual episode, and on the 24th of December, there’s a holiday special that I for one can’t wait for! With so much Hellanory goodness on offer, now’s as good a time as any to get on board with this great series.
With all that being said, thanks again for joining me on this week’s trip down the Otaku Rabbit Hole, and I hope you’ve enjoyed your time here. If you did, that’s amazing, and please consider sharing. If you didn’t, then please get in touch and let me know why. I would love to hear your thoughts! Thank you all once again and, until next time, keep it weeby everyone!