Short story novel of historical horror and dark fantasy, featuring 7 SNM Mag published stories and 7 new ones. Debut novel authored by Jeff Parsons. 216 pages, 67,500 words. Edited by Steven N. Marshall. Artwork by Samantha Marshall. Fiction. “When your life becomes a dream from which you cannot wake, your nightmares slowly take shape within your own darkness, forming shadows of helpless fear, anxiety and horror. The end of sanity is near and, even though you can sense it, it is not yet defined, and is quite inescapable.” ~Jeff Parsons Experience the dangers of knowledge without wisdom and the need to acquire magical power without the restraint to wield it, as a shaman encounters a corrupt secret agent… The desperation of a woman about to die may override the price required to stay alive from a greedy doctor…The sadistic need to hurt the one she loved leads to the ultimate act of selfishness by a woman too jaded by her marriage to care…In a last effort to cure a disease, the government requires a few human guinea pigs for their new experiment… A conscious awakening occurs in an inanimate object that only wants to cure people’s pain…The best of intentions lead to the deadliest of consequences as a man is possessed by a demon who must do good to be spared from Hell…Hope flourishes as a devastating plague strikes down mankind in a post apocalyptic world of grim uncertainty... Some legends are made from the evil that men inflict upon others, just like in the Salem witch trial days…Mining operations go too deep when a team of explorers uncover an ancient myth from yesteryears past…A boy’s personal Hell is discovered when a tragedy occurs where only a strange man can show him just how the truth will set him free… Some hidden memories should be best left buried underneath the surface, where an old abandoned science lab created more than they had bargained for…A rich traveler learns a valuable truth from the servants he employed and discovers it in a mountain of buried secrets at the Temple of Reflection. A man discovers his past from a house he inherited from his family where evil atrocities occurred -- and learns the truth of how his parents were murdered….An archeological expedition uncovers a dark, ancient awakening as the last surviving team member reflects about it in retrospect to an ambitious journalist...it's all here interwoven in this collection of sordid nightmares.
Algorithm of Nightmares, a collection of short horror stories by Jeff Parsons, consists of two parts in which fourteen individual stories reside. The collection adds up to about two-hundred and ten pages. The format is sensible and the font is easy to read, while the stories themselves are fairly brief (not bogged down with excess detail) allowing for a fast-paced read.
While the beginning stories are intriguing and unique, the intensity of each piece seems to amplify in the second section, causing more tension and suspense to build up as each story progresses. The description is well rendered, allowing the reader to see unique visions through Parsons’ eyes, and for the most part the stories appear to be typo-free.
Occasionally, the format gets a little wonky, but these odd effects appear to be intentional. The protagonists think in italics, which is fine, but maybe overdone a little, and various words in all capital letters appear for emphasis. On page 147, for example, in a story titled “Beneath the Surface,” the author seems to get a little overzealous with the format and uses “KA – WHOMMPHH!!!” to indicate sound. This seems to be more of a comic-book tradition, and honestly I found it more comical than scary. I think some of these details take the reader away from the story, reminding them that they are, in fact, reading, instead of being submerged in the written word.
One thing I truly admire about this collection is how daring the stories are. The collection is filled with unique ideas that truly press the limits of the reader’s imagination, allowing risk and uncertainty to transform a tale of horror into a situation one might ponder over long after the book has been read. The stories tend to have an interesting twist, making them fairly unpredictable, which is more than I can say for many first-time authors.
The writing is quirky and the characters have very strong voices. I feel like these characters were underdeveloped, however, and that these quirky voices and their decisions would have been more believable if a few more paragraphs had been dedicated to their pasts and/or personalities. It’s difficult to care about a character you know little to nothing about; if you don’t feel like you know the character you’re reading, then their ultimate fate has less impact. This is a very difficult thing to accomplish, especially when it comes to short stories. To keep each story under a certain length, the author might have sacrificed some critical information. The latter stories of the collection seemed to have stronger characters.
Occasionally, I came across a sentence that puzzled me. Sometimes they made me laugh—perhaps Parsons was trying to combine humor with horror to lighten the mood. My favorite was “Kevin realized he was somewhere” on page 77, which rested as its own sentence. While the thought carried on in the next sentence, the dramatic pause was lessened by the punctuation. Another one I found odd was on page 95, “. . . what would he expect to find there? Dangerous possibilities, undoubtedly, for the house was located next to many food stores.” By itself, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, and being a picky reader I like to have my sentences stand on their own. On page 162, it reads “his butt was nearly frozen to the structure’s floor (a.k.a. the cave)” and I found the parentheses to be odd and unnecessary, though it did reveal a little about the character.
That being said, it’s obvious that the author is well-read in the horror genre, and I think this piece would be excellent for young horror buffs. A fair number of the stories were written in the style of R. L. Stine, who is well known for his ability to capture the young reader’s imagination. This short-story collection would also make for an excellent collection of scripts, which could in turn be made into an interesting horror series. There are plenty of monsters, demons, spirits, and blood and gore to go around—Parsons made sure of that. And after reading the collection, I can say with confidence that this author has a lot of potential. His future work likely has a few surprises in store for us yet.
This was my first book that I won on Goodreads! I was so excited because I love horror stories along with all supernatural and fantasy/sci-fi things! I received this in the mail on Halloween and was super stoked to read it. After all, what is better than reading a novel filled with horror short stories on Halloween, especially with a cover like that?
After reading the very first story, I was a little confused and kept thinking "that's it? That's how this ended?" I understand that they are short stories but I feel like there should have been a little more to each of the stories that was given.
I went on to read the second story and found it hard to read. It was hard for me to read because it involved children and being that I am a mother of two young children I am very sensitive about stories like that. However, the short story was really good!
As I kept reading the book it was enjoyable but to me it isn't really filled with horror (at least what movie makers consider horror) it was more about horrors that are caused by people and the path that their emotions take them on. Some of the stories leave you wondering.
The book was intriguing and I'd recommend it as a light read. :)
I also posted this for amazon. Another collection of short stories that every horror author should take part of! Leaves you breathless wanting for more!
My fingers gripped this book so tightly they cramped when I finished, dying for more. I was incredibly intrigued with the imagination, it took to form each "nightmare" and maybe a little jealous! I haven't been able to distinguish a favorite, because each one captures a different kind of fear. I couldn't put this book down. I was captivated. Jeff Parsons is a true dark fiction "artist". The design and editing is perfect. I can't wait to read the next group of stories from this author.
Some people are not fans of books containing several short stories. This would be the book to start changing that opinion. Try this one, and see if you are NOT left wanting more. It is worth every penny.
Best short story book I've read since Laurell K Hamilton's Strange Candy, better because I liked all the horrific stories. Thanks for the terrifying ride Jeff!
Algorithm of Nightmares is a fine short story collection from Jeff Parsons, an author whose short fiction has appeared in genre magazine SNM Horror Mag. Praise to Steven and Samantha Marshal for recruiting Parsons to their team of authors and for publishing this book. Swirling fantastical and horrific elements into compact, swift-moving prose, the overall impact is one where special powers, secretive plots, and buried treasures can spell doom for overreaching characters. A couple of tales are really exceptional for their surprising ability to disturb and bother. Most are quite good, and although not everything is based on wicked witchery, this is dark fiction at its best that will keep you entertained, disquieted and spellbound at the same time. “When your life becomes a dream from which you cannot wake, your nightmares slowly take shape within your own darkness, forming shadows of helpless fear, anxiety and horror.” – Jeff Parsons
An nice collection of short stories with more than a few really excellent ones (Road to Hell/Here be Dragons/Beneath the Surface in particular). It is interesting to me to see an author learning to find that sweet spot of storytelling where you stop being conscious of reading words, and just start to flow with the story.
Each tale stands alone and is able to transport you into its reality. Although they are short stories, the characters are identifiable and I felt that I knew them at the end. A few of the stories drew me in and left me wondering what happens next? A very enjoyable read and well worth your time.
Jeff Parsons' collection of stories are enjoyable, but predictable. Out of the 14 stories in this collection, I had figured out the ending in 11 long before reaching the conclusion. These stories are well suited for readers who are new to reading horror/thriller/suspense, however.