Podcast Review #51: Closet Treats

Title: Closet Treats
Author: Paul E. Cooley
Genre: Horror
Released: 25 February 2010 – 25 May 2010
Located: iTunesPodiobooksAuthor’s Site
Formats Available: Podcast
Rating: R for violence, gore and adult language

Continuing with our month of October reviews of the strange, the scary, the podcasts that go bump in the night, we bring you Paul E. Cooley’s Closet Treats. Paul had been after me to listen to this story for a while. I kept meaning to, I just had so many stories that I wanted to listen to that I kept putting it aside. Why? Because to be honest, I’m not a big fan of horror stories. I never have been. I like the classics. Dracula, Frankenstein (which I still don’t think has ever had an adaptation that came remotely close to telling the original story), The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and many more. The difference is to me that most current horror author’s have given up trying to scare me and now just want to disturb me with visions of torture and gore. With the success of the Saw franchise (have never seen one, never will) and countless books, I must be in the minority when it comes to not really wanting to be disturbed, but scared. Whatever happened to the good old psychological thrillers like Gaslight, Rear Window and Rebecca?

Even though I had previously listened to, and enjoyed, Mr. Cooley’s Tattoo, I was reluctant to start Closet Treats because of the full novel length of it. You see, Tattoo was definitely a “I want to disturb you” story, but that was okay. It was a novella and the disturbing was less in the actual story than it was implied.

Well, it’s October. When better to be disturbed?

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: Reality is a slippery slope for Trey Leger, but he’s managed to carve out a somewhat normal existence in spite of his mental illness.  But when an ice cream truck starts making the rounds of his neighborhood, Trey can no longer tell reality from his delusions. (Stolen from the author’s site.)

Production: When listening to Mr. Cooley’s previous story, I commented that the production quality was very rough, but that I really didn’t mind and gave him a pass. That is when I realized that I really am willing to forgive a lot of production errors. A good production can make a good story great. A bad production doesn’t really remove the enjoyment of a good story for me, with one caveat. The narrator. If the narrator has a voice or reading style that annoys, it will RUIN a story, regardless of the quality. Not everyone must agree with me however, because I believe I remember Mr. Cooley stating that he had comments on the production that convinced him he needed to make a more dedicated effort this time around.

Well, suffice it to say, I’ve NEVER heard such a dramatic improvement in production between one podcast novel and the next from a single author. It isn’t perfect. But it is such a dramatic improvement that it is impossible not to notice.

Cast: You know what would be truly scary? Having one of our male author’s doing a straight read and doing a female voice and trying to make her sound seductive. *shivers* Closet Treats is indeed a straight author read podcast with Mr. Cooley doing a creditable job with most of the voices.

Story: Wow. This is where my surprise became apparent. Mr. Cooley must have a penchant for a good psychological horror story himself because through the majority of this story, you don’t know whether his protagonist is nuts and seeing things, or seeing things that others aren’t. It is hard to say much without ending up spoiling the story, which I refuse to do. However, I will say that for me, the best part of any good horror story is the build up. When done well it keeps you turning pages or listening to the next ep.

Verdict: Mr. Cooley does the build up very well. It was easy to listen to all episodes of this story rather quickly because the story was so engaging. As with any horror story, the characters seem to be less fleshed out than with other genres. I think this is a bit due to the fact that if you know too much of a character’s motivations, it is hard to keep secrets from the reader. This, at least for me, creates a necessity for the author to turn in a tight story. For the most part, I believe Mr. Cooley has done this admirably.

Disclosure: Although we both live in Texas, I have never met Mr. Cooley (he lives about 7 hours away by car), though as mentioned previously, we are mutual stalkers on Twitter (@paul_e_cooley). Paulie (come on, with using your middle initial like that you KNOW that is how I think of you in my head) responds well to threats and loves to issue them himself. I have heard he actually showed up to Balticon with bunny slippers, showing he also is a good sport.

Comment Pages

There are 11 Comments to "Podcast Review #51: Closet Treats"

  • Sue says:

    My first words to Paul when he told me he wrote horror were simply, “I don’t like horror”. Period. End of discussion. I too am appalled by the copious amounts of blood and gore that are being passed off as art. Then, I listened to the end of Closet Treats.

    Since then, I have listened to his entire feed and read everything of his I can get my hands on. I don’t believe he actually writes “Horror” but propose that “Psychological Thriller” is a much more accurate label for Paul’s writing. Regardless of what it is called, I am hooked.

    Paul did in fact wear fuzzy bunny slippers (of the Monty Python killer rabbit variety) at Balticon. However, that was the night that has become known as “Scotchpocalypse” and thus he has no recollection. Or none that he will swear to should testimony be required.

  • Twowire says:

    I also enjoyed Closet Treats. The build up or the “Slow Burn” as Paul called it was extremely effective in keeping me engaged, and guessing, in this story. I too was pleasantly surprised by Paul’s ability to pen a psychological horror that really grabbed me and held me the way that Closet Treats did. Then again we may just be scratching the surface of Mr. Cooley writing talents! I am eagerly awaiting more of Paul’s work.

    • odin1eye says:

      Thanks for the comment! I really do appreciate each one. I’m always happy to find people that have listened to a podcast and have ANY opinion. Please feel free to share anytime.

  • Scott Roche says:

    Excellent review of a MOST excellent podcast novel. His is the kind of horror (and I think it’s more horror than thriller) that I hope to attract to Abattoir.

  • Jeffrey Hite says:

    Odin, would recommend this podcast for people who don’t like horror?

  • Review for Closet Treats by Paul E. Cooley I knew in advance that Closet Treats was a horror story. That is Paul E Cooley’s specialty and why he has very loyal fans following him. I have listened to and enjoyed other stories penned and recorded by him. I am a fan. This novel is well written, engrossing, and professionally recorded as a serialized podcast. I recommend it to others looking for R rated entertainment that will have you wondering as you walk by your closet or hear ice cream truck chimes. That being said, it was a difficult one for me to listen to. Paul does not believe in happy endings, he warns you– believe him. In Closet Treats, he takes you into the mind of a man who was violently abused as a small child. Kidnapped and sexually abused. The sexual abuse was not described but you are set into the closet with Troy as he experiences it. The author, Paul, goes into Troy’s mind as an adult and relives this abuse. Paul has done his homework on the feelings and thoughts that may accompany this abuse. Paul leads you to believe Troy has overcome most of his fears and is trying to lead a normal life. He married Carolyn and has a son, Alan, whom he adores and dotes over. As you move on into Troy’s world you are led further and further into the labyrinth of his mind. Lost time, hallucinations that drove him to an institution a few years earlier, becoming more frequent now and a new monster to face in the ice cream man. All remnants, the reader believes, of his childhood abuse. This tale of psychological horror and mystery continues with Carolyn and Alan becoming pawns in a game of chess, played by Troy and the ice cream man, where checkmate means death. At the end of this tale we know that Alan has the same impossibly difficult trial to follow that his father had to walk and we tremble with what is in front of him, his trials beginning at such a young age, repeating his father’s history. My past volunteer work with foster children made this a difficult story for me. I have wondered what fears lingered in the minds of the children I worked with who had been abused in so many ways. Would they be able to live normal lives as adults? All my memories, questions and worries at that time were brought back into play. This story is fiction but sadly based on real lives. Now to the actual recording process. Mechanically, it is easy to listen to. The level of Paul’s voice is good and he has fun with the different voices he creates. Excellent editing, I did not catch any mistakes left in the recording. The one thing I did not like was that Paul comments at the beginning of each episode. The bumper is good and I like to know a bit about that, but the rest should go at the end of the episode. I was listening in the car and had to turn the volume down until the announcement of the episode. One major reason is that what he talks about though important at the time to him and his fan club is dated information. It is not relevant to me now nor will it be to future listeners. In summary, Paul warns you that he does not like happy ending. LISTEN to him. It is true. Closet Treats will be in your mind for days after you finish it, and maybe in your nightmares as well.

  • Michael says:

    “If the narrator has a voice or reading style that annoys, it will RUIN a story, regardless of the quality.”

    I agree. There has been a number of stories that I have started listening too, and given up after little more than two episodes because of the voice. In narration the voice is often more important than the story. That been said, I doubt even Nathan can make a truely bad story sound good….


    • odin1eye says:

      Hear hear!

      I’m glad you are sympathetic with my
      POV on this and thank you for stopping by to comment. Feel free to disagree whenever appropriate too! I don’t mind!

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