Faerie: Investigating Fae Folklore

From the makers of Tanis, comes another exploration of the unknown. Those familiar with Public Radio Alliance will recognize their distinct sound and approach. Set in the Pacific Northwest, soaked in an eerie synth-laden soundscape and underscored by scattershot beats, Faerie follows the PRA faux investigative podcast template. In a quest to uncover the truth behind a myth, like its PRA siblings, it artfully weaves phone calls and interviews with both well and little-known fae folklore. It’s an effective mix of NPR meets the Twilight Zone.

At only 12 episodes, Faerie avoids the wheel-spinning narratives that have befallen its PRA predecessors. It moves into the thick of its mystery at a quicker pace, and it takes a more direct approach to its supernatural elements. Sparked by host Ryan Bailey pulling a stranger from the path of a bus, the podcast investigates the rescued man’s claims of working for a clandestine agency. “The department” he tells Ryan functions as a type of fae border control. In a deadly serious tone he adds, it is less active than it once was, and that’s not a good thing.

Is he a deluded man or a whistleblower? Recorder in hand, skepticism out front, Ryan embarks on a journey to the dark side of fae lore. Her calm often non-plussed delivery grounds the series’ otherworldly aspects. Though she gives us minimal background or dimensions outside of skeptical host, her growing infatuation with her subject matter gives her voice a steadily increasing woman-coming-undone undercurrent.

Most of the time, Ryan ends up as a kind of Karina Longworth of fae lore. In some ways, PRA shows are a “You Must Remember This” for dark mythology. Adeptly and distinctively setting it against an eerie soundscape, this approach is precisely what many listeners tune in for.

A MacGuffin gets thrown in to raise the stakes and drive the story forward; however, showcasing grim folklore remains center stage. Faerie gives a nod to other shows within the PRA universe; and Nic Silver, the host of Tanis, drops in as Ryan’s producer. Though other in-universe paranormal hotspots are name-dropped, the only real tie-in is in the mood of the show.

As a limited series, Faerie comes to its resolution a lot quicker than prior PRA shows thus it serves its subject better. Like Tanis, the PRA fiction podcast template allows artful indulgence into creepy folklore that skirts a supernatural border. Though its muted drama and mystery thriller aspects remain present throughout the whole, at times its self-serious manner transforms it from story to mere auditory mirage. Still, it should appeal to not just PRA fans but also those fond of darker retellings of Grimm fairy tales and fae lore.

Faerie is under the Spotify original brand, and available to all listeners under their free tier.
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