REVIEW: The Captivating Flames of Madness

Jeff Parsons – HellBound Books – 4.2.2018 – 298 – Horror Short Stories

This book’s title comes from the reality that – like a moth to the flame – we’re all just one event, mishap, or decision away from things that could change our lives forever. 

What would you do if fate led you astray into a grim world where you encountered vengeful ghosts, homicidal maniacs, ancient gods, apocalyptic nightmares, dark magic, deadly space aliens, and more?

If you dare, why not find out? 

Read for yourself the twenty-two gloriously provocative tales that dwell within this book – but be warned, some of my dear readers have experienced lasting nightmares…


When it comes to reading a new author, I like to start with their short stories or short story collections. It allows me a chance to really see the range of story they have in them, as well as see their writing style and how much they put into their characters, which, to me, are a very important part of the story.

At the same time, short story collections are difficult. It’s hard for authors to hit a middle-ground with them, so they’re either total perfection or completely terrible, and I go in with that thought in my head every time. Especially after reading ones that were just so disappointing to me. I can’t be the only reader that expects a theme to be utilized in every story included or all of the stories selected for the collection to be strong stories, but for some reason, I read a lot of collections that just don’t hit either of those marks.

I agreed to read this one knowing that HellBound Books was the publisher, which gave me a little more faith in the collection than I usually have going into these. They’re a publisher that has not failed me yet when it comes to their books.

The cover itself was not a complete win for me, but the title… captivated my attention. (I know, I know… worst “dad” joke ever haha.)

I was hooked with story number one – Lost Souls. It’s not often that a collection by one author is begun with such a strong story. World War II. German military on a submarine. One member of the crew who questions whether what they are doing is right or wrong. And things that happen on this U-boat that lead to a conclusion I did not expect.

I’ll admit, after that story I was worried – “Don’t tell me that he began the collection with the best!” – but that was so far from the truth. Every single story was better than good. Every single story was strong. Every single story was different, but all stuck to the same theme that I had assumed was there with the title. In fact, there was not a single story in the collection that I either didn’t like or thought should not have been included. I mean, I was impressed. So impressed that it was actually really hard for me to choose a favorite, but I finally was able to decide on two, which, interestingly enough, are the first two stories in the collection:

Lost Souls
The New Law

If you’re looking for a new author to read and haven’t read anything by Jeff Parsons yet, I recommend you read this collection. It was well worth the time that I put into reading it, and I’ll definitely read more of his work in the future.