“Along the riverbanks beware
People disappear down there
Never to return again
That’s where the legend
– Jim Boy
“The Cascade Mountains used to be the heart of Yakima Washington, a landscape burning with color this time of year. That is before the trembling aspen and maple pine leaves lay to rest on the surface of the Snohomish. A river that divides the land into two parts of a long-forgotten whole. The days belong to the locals here. You’ll find them on the river banks catching salmon and crawfish under the pillars of the waterfront restaurants. A feeding ground primed with entrails. But the nights. Well, the nights are seasoned with tourists who camp near the river’s edge.
“All are hoping to catch a prize picture of the myth we relics call Qah-lin-me,” Harry said.
“Who’s Kwa…ah-lin-me, grandpa?” Marc asked.
A man wakes up in present-day Alaskan wilderness with no idea who he is, nothing on him save an empty journal with the date 1898 and a mirror. He sees another man hunting nearby, astounded that they look exactly alike. After following this other man home, he witnesses a wife and child that brings forth a rush of memories of his own wife and child, except he’s certain they do not exist in modern times—but from his life in the late 1800s. After recalling his name is Wyatt, he worms his way into his doppelganger Travis Barlow’s life. Memories become unearthed the more time he spends, making him believe that he’d been frozen after coming to Alaska during the Gold Rush and that Travis is his great-great grandson. Wyatt is certain gold still exists in the area and finding it with Travis will ingratiate himself to the family, especially with Travis’s wife Callie, once Wyatt falls in love. This turns into a dangerous obsession affecting the Barlows and everyone in their small town, since Wyatt can’t be tamed until he also discovers the meaning of why he was able to be preserved on ice for over a century.
Okay, I’m going to be honest with you and say that my hackles were up as soon I read the opening scene.
PICTURE IT…SICILY, 1922. Just kidding, but seriously…PICTURE IT, Alaska, 2020…
Two of the main characters are out in the Alaskan wilderness rifle hunting for Caribou when they shoot and kill three Caribou for food…
They lift two Caribou into the truck and plan on leaving the third there because there’s not enough room–THIS is the moment I throw a flag on the play, my coffee goes flying, and blurt out (scaring the crap out of my cat by the way). ‘Why didn’t you do a field dressing?!?’ ‘You could have fit all three in the back of the truck!’
Don’t worry, no coffee went flying and no hackles were raised at any time when reading THE ANCESTOR 😉
My Dad used to be a Hunters Safety instructor, so I’m guessing it was his voice in my head at that moment.
Seriously though, I really enjoyed reading THE ANCESTOR, which I just finished about three this morning. There are some cringeworthy, absolutely heartbreaking, and surprising moments in this book, and I’m not going to spoil any of them for you.
I will say, as the reader, at times, it’s easy to empathize with Wyatt throughout the book, that is–up to a point.
THE ANCESTOR – Recommend!
‘[A]s I’ve learned from life, happiness sometimes only greets us in fits and starts. For tragedy often follows merriment. Without strife, we would not know the true meaning of gaiety. That’s what I like to tell myself to ease the pain.’
~About Lee Matthew Goldberg~
Lee is the author of the novels THE DESIRE CARD, THE MENTOR, and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. The second book in the Desire Card series, PREY NO MORE, is forthcoming in 2020, along with his first Sci-Fi novel ORANGE CITY. His new endeavor will be as the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe Press and Fringe Digital, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of- the-box. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests.
After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, Cagibi, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City.
Follow him at leematthewgoldberg.com.
The Fearing: Blood & Brimstone by John F.D. Taff
Learn the story behind the emergence of Tim Jacoby & his army. Coming Sept 15th 2020
Follow Matthew Corley On Twitter – @matthewdcorley
Blurb: John Richter’s Disturbing Works Volume II
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.
Jon Richter writes dark fiction (Yesssss!), including his two gripping crime thrillers, Deadly Burial and Never Rest, (adding to my to-be-read list) and his two collections of short horror fiction Jon Richter’s Disturbing Works volumes one and two – volume two – featured in this review.
You know, that thrill you get when you are first introduced to a writer’s work that you have never read before, that ‘Where have you been my whole life!?!?’, feeling.
Okay. Not that dramatic, but you get my point.
Jon Richter is one of many authors over the years whose writing has pulled me into a narrative by way of a tentacle or two, or in the case of my favorite author, a tentacle and the razor-sharp teeth of an evil clown known to the kiddies of Derry, Maine as Pennywise. Yep, I’m definitely okay with that!
‘You’re demented!’ you say. Nah, just a Horror Fan since I was ah kiddie.
I won’t touch on all ten short horror stories in this collection, but I will highlight many favorites:
Jon Richter’s Disturbing Works Volume Two opens with ‘The Pit’ – About a disused quarry that quickly overflows with garbage when sanitation workers go on strike, and the surrounding neighborhood becomes, well…
‘The streets were choked with rubbish, including a reeking mound right outside his own house. […] And it really was the flies that were the worst part… despite closing every window, blocking every crack, they somehow found a way into your home. They buzzed around, bloated and content, jubilant in their dominion.
‘Then they bit you.’
‘The Truth’ – without revealing spoilers, I can tell you this short centers around a husband, his pregnant wife, and his fathers’ secrets…
‘There were many words to describe the day that loomed before me, words like ‘bizarre’, ‘disturbing’, ‘addictive’. But nothing remotely ‘lovely’ awaited me, in the dark cellar beneath my father’s house.’
‘Polaris’ – Is set in Canada, centered around two abandoned zinc mines know as Polaris A and B and a small group who are tasked with finding what lurks within…
‘She gestured to the pack at her feet, from which the barrel of a .375 Holland & Holland Magnum rifle protruded menacingly […] What did we need protection from? Establishing the answer to that question was the reason the four of us were out here.’
‘Source’ – Another short of creepy goodness (Loved It!) that I won’t spoil for you, I will, however, leave you with this…Your in bed, your wife who was sleeping next to you is no longer by your side when you hear a crash down stairs…
‘I dashed towards her, grabbing her, yanking her head away from the freezing rain that had already lashed her face, making the blood run in rivulets from the cuts […] I will never forget her expression, as she turned to look at me with a scalding mix of rage and hatred in her eyes.‘
‘“He wants it…” she was shrieking, without forming the consonants properly, almost as though she was drugged. “He wants it back!”’
‘Monolith’ – Aka, the Domino, is the latest addition to London’s skyline and home to a pharmaceutical giant, which is…
‘“We have to assume the worst here,” she barked at her five male subordinates as they traveled towards the scene. “There could be a terrorist incident, with active hostiles. Maybe multiple hostages. Going dark for this long means…’
Nope, no spoilers; you will just have to read the book and find out. 😉
‘Leviathan’ – Loved it! This short story is set in July of 1936, narrated by a young journalist, or more specifically penned in a journal by his hand, an account of his nautical adventure aboard the Leviathan …
‘Today I received a most unusual assignment from my employers at the Patriot. I will confess to a not insubstantial measure of trepidation, but, for an aspiring young journalist, such opportunities as this are rare, and demand to be grasped.’
‘Urbex’ – I had never heard of the word ‘Urbex’ before reading this short – and honestly – it sounded kind of fun after learning what it was, that is, before reading this story…
‘Exciting, frightening, dangerous, clandestine. Soaking in that mood was what urban exploration was all about. That was why Callum preferred the darkness.’[…]There was something about mortality, too. Watching the rot and the weeds slowly reclaiming these buildings felt like documenting the inevitability of death…’
‘Endurance’ – The race is called the Wheezing 100, the ultra-marathon, an event that is known as the ‘best-kept secret.’ There is no marketing, no fundraising, no banners or sponsors. Just a few local volunteers, a Vietnam war veteran, and his hellish brainchild.
‘”I’m not looking for show-offs, or sightseers, or god damn Instagrammers,” he’d said. “I’m looking for people who want to test the absolute limit of what they can accomplish.”’
‘Interface’ – Loved it – Sooooo Good!!
‘Whatever had caused that initial, feverish surge of bloodlust – replaced now by this ominous docility or, in the case of most of the creatures, mysterious absence – seemed able to discern between those affected and those immune to its horrifying effects.’
I want to thank Blackthorn Book Tours and author Jon Richter for letting me take part in promoting a book I had such a pleasure reading.
If you like Dark Horror Fiction as I do, then I highly recommend Jon Richter’s Disturbing Works Volume Two!
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.
Ellen Tanner Marsh, in her article “Editing Fiction Like A Pro: The 5 Most Common Mistakes that Bog Down Your Narrative,” tells her readers to focus on the “don’ts” of sentence structure rather than agonizing over every word until it’s just right, which is something I am VERY guilty of.
I mean, have you ever sat down at your writing desk or comfy chair and tweaked, twisted, phrased, and rephrased your prose until you look up at the clock and it’s five hours later, and you’ve written only a paragraph? Yep, Guilty.
As a long-time freelance editor, Marsh has helped countless authors fine-tune their plots, characters, and prose. Some of these authors, whether gifted or just getting there, tended to make the following mistakes… Read More
Have you ever been asked to write a short story and felt that twinge in the pit of your stomach?
Yep, me too.
That’s just old man anxiety waving his doubt encrusted sign in front of your eyes saying you can’t when you and I both know you can.
I was going to start off this blog post by saying “The biggest mistake I made when trying to write a short story…,” but that wouldn’t be accurate at all.
I honestly don’t view my trial and error process of writing as being a mistake, but rather a continuous learning curve that I’ve navigated, roughly at times, over the years.
Now, I have a B.A. Degree in Creative Writing, but I personally don’t feel that makes me an expert in this art form by any means; however, I share with you what’s worked for me in my prose, that I hope to one day get published.
When I first started writing mini-tales (so many moons ago), I used the plot outline for writing a novel and kept wondering why my word count was so high.
Well, that was the problem. I was using the wrong outline.