book review, horror, short story

Disturbing Works Volume II by Jon Richter

A brief detour from David Rae Week to join Blackthorn Book Tours review tour of Jon Richter’s short story collection, Disturbing Works Volume Two.


About the book

Another compendium of delightfully macabre stories by Jon Richter, author of Deadly Burial and Never Rest. Jon’s first short fiction collection was described as ‘Black Mirror meets Tales Of The Unexpected’, and here he brings you another chilling assortment of twisted tales encompassing killer creatures, terrifying technology, and scientific experiments gone horribly wrong… These dark fables are perfect for anyone who likes their reads short, shocking, and laced with a dash of black humour.


My review

Ten dark short stories with a strong voice show that Jon Richter is an author to look out for.

The collection starts with The Pit, a tale of local government corruption, hit men and rubbish dumps. The Truth heads into more bizarre territory, with a grotesque head that knows everything. Polaris starts strong with a group of Bigfoot hunters searching for the cryptid through the frozen realms of the arctic. Ephemera depicts a novel worthy dystopian society, and a denouement that made me laugh. Source dives into the realm of dreams and dangerous sleepwalking. Monolith warns of the danger of altering our DNA. Leviathan is an nod to HP Lovecraft and things that dwell in the deep. Urbex follows an urban explorer through a abandoned zoo at night. Endurance chronicles one runners experience of an extreme marathon. The final story, Interface, brings new blood to the zombie story.

In every collection or anthology of short stories, there are some stories you like better than others, and some you like least. Unfortunately, my least favorite story in Disturbing Works Volume II was the very first – The Pit. Competently written, but the least speculative story of the bunch, it didn’t fill me with enthusiasm for a book that is really filled with gems, written by an author with clever ideas and a distinct voice.

However, there is much to commend the other stories. There are elements I loved in each one, be it the world building, a reference, a sly bit of humor or a stylistic choice.

My favorite story of the collection is Source, which blends dreams, which always entrance me, with another wonderful idea, and combines it with solid characterization, pacing and plot. If there is one criticism of the other stories, it is that sometimes the pacing is a little off, with strong openings and rushed endings, but Source gets it almost completely right. I am not a fan of the device of an omniscient epilogue that ends this story and several others. That aside, I thought it was a triumph.

Honorable mention goes to Ephemera. The world building is intricate, so much so that the beginning was quite confusing, and I think this dystopian vision is worthy of a much larger canvas for the characters to fully explore. The kernel of the story is genius, although it seems at odds with the serious narrative that surrounds it.

I must also give props to the excellent cover, which references elements from at least six of the stories in the collection.

Disturbing Works Volume II was an enjoyable journey through some fascinating worlds, and I look forward to reading more by this author. I award it…

Disturbing Works Volume II is available for $2.64 ebook and $10.59 print book on Amazon.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


About the author

Jon Richter writes dark fiction, including his two gripping crime thrillers, Deadly Burial and Never Rest, and his two collections of short horror fiction, volumes one and two of Jon Richter’s Disturbing Works.

Jon lives in Elephant & Castle and is a self-confessed nerd who loves books, films and video games – basically any way to tell a great story. He writes whenever he can, and hopes to bring you more macabre tales in the very near future, including his upcoming cyberpunk noir thriller, London 2039: Auxiliary. He also co-hosts the Dark Natter podcast, a fortnightly dissection of the greatest works of dark fiction, available wherever you get your podcast fix.

If you want to chat to him about any of this, you can find him on Twitter @RichterWrites or Instagram @jonrichterwrites.

His website haunts the internet at www.jon-richter.com, and you can find his books at Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2OXXRVP.

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