The Captivating Flames of Madness by Jeff Parsons

The Captivating Flames of Madness by Jeff Parsons
Publisher: Hellbound Books Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Paranormal, Historical, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

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…

Prepare for a wild ride.

Chelsea was a drug addict who had run out of money for her next fix in “Control.” After spotting an old woman who was earning a small sum by entertaining children with a marionette doll at a park, she thought she’d found the perfect victim. I loved the plot twists in this tale and how my terrible first impression of the main character evolved over time as Chelsea planned out her robbery and then put her ideas into action. This was a great example of how to write a character who was simultaneously a terrible human being and a fascinating one.

My reactions to these tales varied quite a bit. Some were truly wonderful, but others were hard for me to get into because of how few details were provided about what was happening in them and why the characters behaved the way they did. “The Variant,” which was about a lab specialist named William who was hired to create a variant of the Ebola virus that would be 100% lethal, was one of them. I struggled to understand why William agreed to work on such a deadly project, much less his reaction when funding for it was suddenly cut off. There was so much more I needed to know about this character and his work. This is something I’m saying as someone who has reviewed countless anthologies and short story collections for Long and Short Reviews over the years. Mr. Parsons is a good storyteller overall, and I hope I’ll be able to give his next book a much higher rating as there was a lot to enjoy about my first experience with his writing style.

Ellen was dying of cancer in “At Any Cost,” but she was given one final chance to be in a drug trial that might prolong her life. Her desperation for more time, or maybe even a cure, endeared me to her. The science fiction twist to her experiences is something best left for other readers to be surprised by for themselves. With that being said, I thought they were a clever way to reveal more of her personality just when I thought I more or less had her all figured out.

The Captivating Flames of Madness piqued my curiosity.

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