The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures by Aaron Mahnke

Thursday, January 18, 2018
Aaron Mahnke’s Lore podcast is one of the more fascinating and informative podcasts available. He explores the world of lore: folktales and legends—usually creepy or macabre—and shares the interesting things he finds. He’s an accomplished and entertaining storyteller.

Podcasts are subject to time constraints: there’s only so much you can fit into each episode. While the stories he shares with his listeners are clearly well researched, he doesn’t go into much depth with them. And that’s OK for a podcast—the point of these stories is to share them and entertain his audience. While he occasionally asks the Big Questions (“Why are we drawn to myths and legends like these? What purpose do they serve?” etc.) he never offers much more than cursory, broad strokes answers. Again, that’s fine for a podcast—he needs to focus each episode on telling the cool stories he finds.

Books have far fewer constraints than podcasts and offer more freedom. So when I heard Mahnke had written a book about The World of Lore, I hoped he would use the freedom of this different format to dive more deeply into each story, and into the subject as a whole, than he does in his podcast. I wanted him to tackle the Big Questions in more substantive way.

If the podcast is tapas, I wanted the book to be meat and potatoes.

It’s not.

The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures is literally just a written version of Mahnke’s podcast. It’s a collection of several fascinating stories, well researched and very well told, but without much depth. He asks the Big Questions but still offers nothing more than broad strokes answers to them.

This means, of course, that it’s just as entertaining and enrapturing as his podcast. This is a seriously fun book. But it’s also a huge missed opportunity.

As a book, The World of Lore will reach an audience the podcast doesn’t. There’s value in that.

But it doesn’t add anything new or expand the world of Lore in any new directions. While it’s as fascinating, informative, and entertaining as the rest of Mahnke’s work, it also feels a little pointless.

I plan to read future volumes of The World of Lore. Mahnke is an exceptional storyteller who shares amazing tales and fascinating bits of history. His future books promise to be highly entertaining. I no longer expect them to offer anything new or different than the podcast, so I hopefully won’t be quite so disappointed with them.