A Solstice Carol

“Every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.”
—Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

“Efficiunt Daemones, ut quae non sunt, sic tamen quasi sint, conspicienda hominibus exhibeant.” (Devils so work that men perceive things which do not exist as if they were real.)
—Epigraph from H. P. Lovecraft’s “The Festival”

This very special holiday episode anthologizes three of Lovecraft’s favorite shorter tales, joining them with a Dickensian frame narrative. At almost 90 minutes in length, it comes on TWO CDs, and features FIVE bonus props documents. It also includes almost 45 minutes of fun bonus material, including Lovecraftian holiday poems, music, and the opening chapters of an original story!

As he struggles with a terrible case of writer’s block, a young Providence writer gets assistance from the ghost of a popular but hackneyed pulp author, along with three spooky spirits who visit him in the dead of night. One takes him to ancient Kingsport, where he witnesses the events of "The Festival". Another takes him to present-day Boston, where he gets a look at the works of the ghoulish painter of the macabre, Richard Upton Pickman. The last spirit takes him to an all-but-deserted castle, occupied only by the lonely narrator of "The Outsider". As the writer encounters each of these figures, he learns something about himself, and begins to grow into the artist and mentor he will become.

Lovecraft was very fond of Christmas but, notwithstanding that, was not at all fond of the works of Charles Dickens. “I certainly loathe sentimental hypocrites like Dickens,” he wrote. “Dickens never drew a real human being in all his career—just a pageant of abstractions, exaggerations & general characters.” That’s a rather ironic indictment coming from a man whose writing seldom wins praise for the richness of its human characters. But we hope our telling of “A Solstice Carol” might shine an imaginative light on an author and the evolution of his own character. In commingling his works “The Festival”, “Pickman’s Model” and “The Outsider” with Dickens’ iconic tale of spirits past, present, and future, we hope our audience may glean a fresh appreciation for the accomplishments of both authors and the intrinsic power of the solstice season.

Get it now!


To enhance your listening pleasure and take you deeper into the story, as always we include bonus prop documents. The CD version of the episode comes with FIVE fun props:

  • The obituary of Mason Farley, famous pulp writer
  • The cover of Astonishing Tales magazine featuring one of Farley's last stories
  • A form-letter from True Terror magazine rejecting the work of an aspiring Providence author
  • An exhibit catalog featuring listing for paintings by Richard Upton Pickman
  • A page torn from the Necronomicon, describing the Yule Rite as it appears in "The Festival"
  • Track Listing

    1. Opening 3:14
    2. Stave One: Farley's Ghost 18:18
    3. Stave Two: The Festival of Solstice Past 18:02
    4. Stave Three: The Ghouls of Solstice Present 21:33
    5. Stave Four: The Outsider of Solstice Yet to Come 16:55
    6. Stave Five: The End of It 9:18
    7. Closing 1:31
    Total Runtime 88:51

    Bonus Tracks
    1. Bonus intro: 0:34
    2. Festival 0:53
    3. Death to the World (Instrumental) 2:02

    4. Christmastide 0:21
    5. We Three Friends of H.P.L. Are 6:24
    6. Good St. Nick 0:18
    7. The Festival 7:48
    8. Christmas Snows 0:18
    9. Solstice Ghosts 4:43
    10. Halcyon Days 0:22
    11. What Thing Is This? (Instrumental) 1:48
    12. Little Tiger 0:26
    13. A Brumalian Wish 2:11
    14. St. John 0:25
    15. Pickman's Model 1:32
    16. Christmas Blessings 0:19
    17. The Outsider 4:26
    18. Egyptian Christmas 0:29
    19. The Panther-Lady of Aquelva, Ch. 1 & 2 7:51
    Total Runtime 43:10

    Cast and Crew

    Leslie Baldwin...Indulgent Mother, Aunt Lillian, The Ghost of Solstice Past
    Sean Branney...Barnaby Dickens
    Kacey Camp...Smarmy Child, Aunt Annie, Harriet
    Mike Dalager...Curtis
    Lucas Dixon...H. P. Lovecraft
    Matt Foyer...Dr. Eustace Reid
    Andrew Leman...Nujufru Spokesman, Callahan, The Outsider
    Jacob Andrew Lyle...Providence Boy
    Barry Lynch...Mason Farley, Nicholas Bosworth
    John A. McKenna...The Ghost of Solstice Present
    Grinnell Morris...Doting Dad, Harrison Thurber
    Kevin Stidham...Richard Upton Pickman/Peters
    Josh Thoemke...Announcer
    Time Winters...Jasper, Joe Minot

    Based on the stories "The Festival", "Pickman's Model" and "The Outsider" H. P. Lovecraft
    and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
    Radio adaptation by Sean Branney and Andrew Leman
    Original music by Troy Sterling Nies
    Audio engineering by Daniel McMains
    Engineering assistance by Adam Pardee
    Cover and disc illustrations by Darrell Tutchton
    Bonus props by Andrew Leman and Sean Branney
    "Astonishing Stories" cover painting by Darrell Tutchton
    Latin translation assistance by Rhett Jenkins/Woodcut by Christian Matzke

    Produced by Sean Branney and Andrew Leman

    Script, Liner Notes & More


    If you enjoy the bonus musical tracks included with this episode and want even more horror in your holidays, you might greatly enjoy our two albums of Solstice music: A Very Scary Solstice and An Even Scarier Solstice. We took 46 familiar holiday songs and provided them with Lovecraftian lyrics, performed by talented singers accompanied by beautiful instrumentation. Just wait until you hear the "Oh Cthulhu" chorus!

    The prop newspaper clipping for this episode features a crossword puzzle on its reverse side but does not have the complete list of clues or the answers. In case you are driven mad by not being able to solve it, here is the complete puzzle, and in the window below is the answer key. Many thanks to DART listener Eric Haddock for finding this puzzle long after Andrew had forgotten where it came from!


    For your enjoyment, we present free PDF downloads of the final recording script and liner notes of A Solstice Carol. Note: this script is only for use for reading along with Dark Adventure Radio Theatre; no performance of the script may be made without written consent of the HPLHS.

    The White Tree
    Episode 14
    The White Tree
    The Thing on the Doorstep
    Episode 15
    The Thing on the Doorstep
    The Brotherhood of the Beast
    Episode 16
    The Brotherhood of the Beast
    Liner Notes
    Liner Notes
    A Solstice Carol