Published: June 8th 2016 by Helene Leuschel
Read Date: August 21st 2017
Five stories – Five Lives.
Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance?
Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim.
In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Next, there is Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself and finally Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.
Blurb itself say a lot what this book was about. So I will directly jump into what I liked.
Author has written all stories with a perfect flow. Different characters go through different situations and realizing they had been manipulated at one point. The detailed information of signs and symptoms, how to be aware of those kind of person and many other details about different kind of manipulator and Stockholm syndrome was mind blowing. In some stories the realization came very late and it pained me seeing characters suffered in the book and another dreadful thing was the manipulators in the stories got away and victims had to go through worst experience. It felt topic was thoroughly researched and given a perfect shape in the book.
First story, Tess and Tattoos, was brilliant opening story, full of deep quotes that I highlighted in this story. No other story of this book could perfect for opening. This story created a suspense in the book, I was curious to know what happened to Tess and why she is alone, what was it she couldn’t tell her son. The revelation at the end of the story was totally unexpected. I didn’t see it coming. The pain that she has gone through was unimaginable. It bring out raw emotions from me.
“We are like candle flames, so fragile, so easily blown out by gust of wind. Yet here I am, even if only by a small glimmer.”
Second story, The Spell, was okay. I didn’t like it much except the more details on Stockholm syndrome. From the very beginning this story gave me the creep. I was constantly feeling something bad was going to happen in the story. It was nothing like horror story but it was scaring me for some reason.
Third story Runaway Girl was my favorite and it was very deep and loved hearing thought of Holly in this story. Her struggle with family and dream of freedom and feelings of teenage, effects of alcoholism was written very epically. It felt real and touching. I so loved seeing the changes in characters in this story specially her mother. This story also told about importance of friend in life and how they can save and help you from manipulator.
“For some reason we all dream about meeting the charming prince in shining armor but, trust me, he doesn’t exist. It’s all bullshit… And you know what? It’s okay.”
Fourth one, The Narcissist, was different and most favorite one. It was narrated from manipulator and counselor’s point of view alternatively. The letters in the story added the extra plus point to the story telling what actually happened with. I loved the thoughts of that lady counselor. The very solid reason I loved this story was manipulator was punished in this story. Ah, Finally!!
The fifth and final story, My Perfect Child was a dreadful story for mothers about a mother who has dreamed a perfect child, stubbornly blinded by her motherly love and her son turned out a horrible manipulator who used his mother’s love to escape the situation and to get what he wanted. What a story it was! I hoped all the time that she realized earlier her mistakes. I wished she could also see another aspect of her parent’s way of upbringing, based on which she was overly caring her son, that made her kind woman who could stand by her own before her child born.
This stories changed my view towards the world and people who can wear a mask of innocence and get away with what they want. It made me to keep in mind that ‘BE CAREFUL’ tag.
Stories made me go slow. It was steady paced but the topic was so intense and heavy that it slowed reading pace, I needed breather after each story. In second story and the last one, characters annoyed me little. There were so many signs for them to run away take some actions or at least to stand for themselves, but they realized it too late and the manipulator could get away with the tricks to find new victim.
Who should read it? Those who love psychological fiction would like to read it. And be careful if you’re very sensitive kind.
Author: H.A. Leuschel
To know more about author click HERE.
*** Note: I received a review copy from the author, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to author. I am glad I got a chance to read this book. ***
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Happy Reading! 🙂