A BarksBeachesBooks Review
Think back to your childhood. Remember Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz? Now fast forward to the “Creepy Pasta” internet horror stories of recent history such as The Russian Sleep Experiment. The Captivating Flames of Madness is Jeff Parsons marrying the two for a chilling read. Or rather, readS.
The Captivating Flames of Madness is a collection of 22 short horror stories. These are campfire stories for the committed: two people working together to scare the rest of the campers; one tells the stories, the other sneaks away and hides for the perfect timing to jump out and scare everyone – chainsaws and props encouraged. None of these stories have an I’s dotted and T’s crossed kind of ending. They are all open and sometimes even vague and leave you to your imagination on what happens next. Sure, they lead you in one direction, but they are the type of stories that you will be thinking about afterward and wondering what really happened to Larry in that old house pit? What was John’s fate after capturing the famed Bruja? What if William Chung is a premonition as to the first domino in the fall of mankind?
Personally, I loved the short story collection aspect. With my usual thrillers and horror stories I don’t have the ability to take a break between each chapter for even a day or two at a time without having to go back and figure out what I forgot from the previous chapter. In this book I was able to read a quick flight-gone-wrong plot (right before I hopped on my plane because, of course I did) and then pick up the book hours later with a completely new theme. Not that you’ll want to wait to see what the next chapter holds…
Speaking of themes, Jeff has no shortage of ideas. His ability to create a horror story scenario out of anything from virtual reality, to WWII memories, to the more obvious witches, ancient magic and haunted cemeteries is impressive to say the least. Some of these were thought provoking, some were downright terrifying. There was psychological mind play, medical themes, and even dystopian vibes. Three specifically have stuck with me as such a real possibility that they have now entered my dreams: The New Law, The Daisy, The Variant. Others have had me rethinking the ending several times: Among Us, Devourers of Eternity.
There is no repetition in this collection. Everything was well thought out from new and interesting story-specific characters to the problems (read: monsters) to rarely a solution that you expect. I have seen some collections with repeated phrasing which will turn me off an author’s future books. Jeff Parsons has a completely original set of horror that is not for those that like a quick thriller or a drama. Some of these are straight up gory and others are complete psychological warfare. YOU. HAVE. BEEN. WARNED.
For scariest results:
- Turn off all lights except your reading lamp
- Silence all radios, TVs, humans in the vicinity
- Immerse yourself in the Jeff Parsons experience that is horror
About Jeff Parsons
Jeff has a long history of technical writing, which oddly enough, often reads like pure fiction. He is well-known for being unnoticed in the literary ﬁeld. In addition to his two books, The Captivating Flames of Madness and Algorithm of Nightmares, he is published in SNM Horror Magazine, Bonded by Blood IV/ V, The Horror Zine, Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, Chilling Ghost Short Stories, Dystopia Utopia Short Stories, Wax & Wane: A Coven of Witch Tales, Thinking Through Our Fingers, The Moving Finger Writes, Golden Prose & Poetry, Our Dance With Words, The Voices Within, Fireburst – The Inner Circle Writers’ Group Second Flash Fiction Anthology 2018, and Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volume 4. For more propaganda, visit his author page at https://www.facebook.com/OfficialJeffParsons/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel.
Some links:Jeff Parsons – AuthorJeff Parsons
Books by Jeff Parsons (Author of Chilling Ghost Short Stories)