The Horror Zine
The Horror Zine Review

Algorithm of Nightmares

by Jeff Parsons

Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (November 30, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1481121707
ISBN-13: 978-1481121705
Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.9 x 8.9 inches

Algorithm of Nightmares

Algorithm of Nightmares

by Jeff Parsons

Review by Kathryn D. Jacks

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.

The stories in the beginning are intriguing and unique, yet 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 descriptions are 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 various words in all capital letters appear a little excessively. 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.

All caps seem to be more of a comic-book tradition. I think some of these details take the reader away from the story, reminding them that they are reading instead of being submerged in the written word. 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.

Sometimes the book made me laugh. There was one spot on page 77, which rested as its own sentence: “Kevin realized he was somewhere.” Intentionally funny or not, it was a good way to lighten the mood.

One thing I truly admire about this collection is how daring the stories are. The book 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.

The writing is quirky and the characters have very strong voices. I feel like these characters were underdeveloped, 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 when it comes to short stories. The latter stories of the collection seems to have stronger characters so character development gets better the further you get into this book.

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 interesting horror films. 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 works likely will have a few surprises in store for us, but you’ll have to check out Algorithm of Nightmares to see for yourself.

You can buy the book HERE

About the author

Jeff Parsons

Jeff Parsons

Jeff Parsons originally hails from the east coast, but has called Northern California his home for many years now. He lives with his wife and family and is a proud recipient of their love and support.

Jeff is a professional engineer. He has a long history of technical writing, which oddly enough, often reads like fiction. He was inspired to write by two wonderful teachers: William Forstchen and Gary Braver. He is currently published in the Northern California Publishers and Authors anthology titled Golden Prose & Poetry.

Jeff got his first break with SNM Horror Magazine’s online stories. SNM recently published his debut book titled Algorithm of Nightmares. He was previously featured in the SNM Bonded by Blood IV and V anthologies.

About the reviewer

Kathryn D. Jacks

Kathryn Jacks

Kathryn D. Jacks was born and raised in Gosport, Indiana. She began writing when she was only nine years old and is now attending Indiana University for a degree in English. Her first novel, Shadows Embrace, was published in 2011. Kathryn's work has also appeared in the Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans 2001 & 2003, The Labyrinth Literary Magazine, Tales of World Warz, and The Horror Zine.