Discover crime stories on Storiaverse

5 Mins read
Storiaverse main theme image showing two smartphones with the app running

As you might have noticed, we review books here on Crime Fiction Lover. A lot of books. Over 2,900, in fact. But that’s not all we do, and it’s always interesting when new things come along that push the boundaries. Lately, we’ve been delving into a new app for iOS and Android called Storiaverse and we’ve discovered that there’s plenty here for crime fiction lovers to enjoy.

The app is free to download. Currently, you can view all 34 stories for free as well.

Storiaverse launched in April 2024 with a new form of storytelling that combines animation, text and audio. Already leading short story writers are involved, including John M Floyd, Josh Pachter and Michael Bracken. Each of these has won multiple Derringer awards, alongside all kinds of accolades including Anthony, Edgar and Shamus awards and/or nominations. If you’ve read Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine or Strand Magazine, you might have come across their work before – but perhaps not with the top quality visuals and sound that bring their stories to life.

Because each story is bite-size – typically lasting 10 to 15 minutes – some would say that Storiaverse is aimed at Gen Z readers who are digital natives and get most of their information via smartphones. But let’s not pigeon-hole folk by age. We can see it sitting well with anyone who enjoys the short story format, comic books, graphic novels and/or short films. Each story has been carefully crafted to hook you in with smart concepts, instant characterisation, impactful imagery and audio. In fact, you shouldn’t underestimate the sound – as visual as these stories are, it’s the voices of the characters that bring them to life, while the music and sound effects help build atmosphere.

In terms of both the animated and text components, the creators involved are always driving for originality. Yes, there’s genre fiction throughout the 34 stories available at the time of writing – mystery, thriller, noir, sci-fi, horror, fantasy, anime… you name it. However, the stories do look and feel fresh and diverse. At the moment, Storiaverse is like a playground for talent and innovation, without any big franchises or famous characters to distract you. Each writer is paired with an artist, and together their vision comes to life.

In future, Storiaverse does plan to work with certain authors and publishers, and it has signed a deal with Harper Collins to adapt Asylum by Madeleine Roux (horror) and Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau (fantasy). We’ll keep you up to date if any more big-name crime fiction authors join the platform.

In terms of production values, this app really is quite impressive. It looks and feels very professional, the user interface has been carefully honed and new stories are appearing every week. This is no surprise as the business brains behind it are Agnes Kozera and David Kierzkowski, the tech entrepreneurs whose Podcorn service links podcasters with advertisers. They’ve ensured that their new app has no shortage of visual and writing talent behind it.

Storiaverse is perfect for zoning out on your commute or at break time – you can just sink into a great little story for 10 or 15 minutes, then get back to it. Watch the demo video, or scroll down to find more about five of the best crime stories on Storiaverse. Oh, and it also has some fantastic material in other genres such as fantasy, cyberpunk, adventure and horror. Plenty to enjoy, and it’s currently free.

A Night at the Park by John M Floyd

Still image from A Night at the Park on the Storiaverse app

We’ve featured this one first because it’s a great example of the story and artwork coming together to generate an atmosphere. Josh Ryba‘s scratchy, textured, tea-stained visuals get you into the vibe straight away as two dangerous criminals break out of a penitentiary and run off into a pine forest. One of them even manages to collide with a tree. When they arrive at a strange farm, like no other, and demand food, the tables are turned. The young woman working there isn’t about to be bullied by thugs and soon Lenny and Rocco are themselves being held at gunpoint. Later on, when the sheriff and his new deputy arrive, everything loosens up and the author’s dark humour shines through.

Bumf*ck, Nowhere by Michael Bracken

Still image from Bumf*ck, Nowhere on the Storiaverse app

Excuse the author’s French, but here we have a debt collector for a Dallas gangster who is blown off course in rural Texas. Our man is confident, cocky and thinks he’s wise to the world but he doesn’t figure on whom he ends up tangling with. His journey leads to a dive bar at the above location and an intense encounter with a blonde bar woman, tied up neatly with a clever, deadlier-than-the-male twist. There’s a little nod to the old noir comics of the 30s and 40s in Shahab Serwaty‘s animation work too.

Watch a trailer for this story here.

If It Bleeds by Josh Pachter

If It Bleeds short story image from the Storiaverse app

The setting shifts to Chicago in Josh Pachter’s If It Bleeds, a story that seems more complex than the others from the outset. It begins with the assassination of Alderman Broglio – the fourth killing in a week. Prosecutor Maya Jackson is hot for the Police Chief Forrester to find the culprit fast, but she is murdered too. Media magnate Tom Spencer watches on as Forrester struggles and it seems the Russian mafia might be behind the killing spree… Hard, heavy and dark, Reza Dolatabadi‘s artwork is all sharp angles and dot pattern textures reminiscent of ancient newsprint to tie in with a theme all to do with the contemporary media. There are splashes of colour but they’re mainly blood red.

Tiger by the Tail by Steven James Cordin

Tiger By the Tail image from the Storiaverse app

If it’s twists and turns you’re after, then take the Tiger by the Tail, from an author who’s new to us. Art gallery manager Nick is the mark when four masked men burst into his home and take his wife hostage. It’s a tiger kidnapping – John, Paul, George and Ringo, as they’re called want him to steal three paintings for them, but things are never that straightforward and soon the tiger has turned. Surprises for the kidnappers, surprises for readers, with animation by Desmond Bouey.

Sparks by Michael Bracken

Still image from the Sparks short story on the Storiaverse app

Of the five stories we’ve zeroed in on, Sparks is the one where the characters have the greatest depth. Eric Brand is an ex firefighter who now lives on the street. Strangely, he doesn’t seem frightened by stories in the paper about someone going around setting homeless people on fire and he refuses to retreat to a shelter where he can get a hot meal, a warm bed and a haircut. Then we learn about his own unusual background, why he’s on the street and about his motivations. Along with a character-driven tale, Michael Bracken and animator Quinn Gaughan deliver a little bit of social commentary alongside this nihilistic narrative.

Write for Storiaverse

Storiaverse is aiming to give authors new income opportunities and is looking for new, original stories. The company is currently seeking unpublished stories between 2,000 and 4,000 words, and you can either send them some examples with a view to creating something new for them or send a story you believe is ready to roll in the Storiaverse format. You’ll be matched up with an animator collaborator. Find out more here.

At the time of writing, Storiaverse has about 100 new stories in production. The app is free, so download it to your smartphone and give it a try. In future, subscriber content will be added to a paid for tier, but for now there’s lots to enjoy without paying a penny.

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