Today is my stop on the blog tour for ‘Manipulated Lives’ by H. A. Leuschel, organised by Damppebbles Blog Tours. I hope that you will check out the other blogs on the tour (see the banner below) as well as the book and author.
Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review.’
Five compelling true-to-life stories each highlighting a narcissist’s manipulative mind games
Narcissists are everywhere.
They can be witty, charming and highly charismatic.
Anyone can be their target.
At first their devious, calculating mind games can be hard to spot because they are masters of disguise, 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.
All stories highlight to what extent narcissistic abuse can distort lives and threaten our self-worth yet ultimately, also send a positive message that once the narcissist is unmasked, the victims can at last break free.
Manipulated Lives is a collection of five novellas that despite their shorter length does an outstanding job of diving into and exploring human behaviour and relationships. These stories are psychological thrillers at their strongest, and through them, Leuschel does a fantastic job of highlighting narcissistic manipulation in many forms, and in demonstrating just how subtle and misleading it can be, and how far-reaching the effects can be. The title and cover playing beautifully into the book, and vice versa, and there is something equally gripping and disturbing about both.
Leuschel has a strong grip on human nature, and that bleeds through into her characterisation throughout the five novellas. Whether, you liked or loathed the characters, or had those moments when the hairs stood up on the back of your neck, each of them was well-written and well-developed, and every single one of them added a unique perspective and it was impossible not to become in invested in the various lives portrayed in the collection.
It’s difficult to choose a favourite from these five stories, because while there is the common thread of manipulation running throughout them all, they all take distinct approaches to the topic, and each is poignant in its own way. If pressed, I think that ‘Runaway Girl’ is perhaps the one that I found the easiest to identify with, perhaps because it is a story that we hear and see in various forms far too often, or maybe, it was because how many of us have been a teenager like Holly and caught between opposing forces. Whereas ‘Tess and the Tattoos’ was a story that caught me by surprise with how it played out, and also pays with a variety of manipulations, and is perhaps the most wide-reaching of the stories in terms of the different forms and levels that it looks at, and it certainly pulled on the heartstrings.
‘The Spell’ had a fascinating dynamic between the various characters, and it was one of those stories that left you wondering if you knew the truth even by the final word, which is perhaps reflective of far too many manipulations. ‘The Narcissist’ was fascinating because it approached the topic from the side of the manipulator, and it was a surprisingly sad story, while also giving an uncomfortable feeling that ‘what goes around comes around’ can come true, but that it doesn’t necessarily make you feel good. While the ‘Perfect Child’ is another one that I think many people may have encountered, even if just from the outside, and I think this one was both spot-on but also somehow the one that made me angriest.
Manipulated Lives is a book that will make you think for a long time afterwards, and which will definitely pull on your heartstrings in more than one way because the characters, scenarios and themes that are presented here are ones that are so easy for us to connect with. As a reader, you have some distance, but many people will find points of connection in those stories, for better or worse and this collection is one that I think many people will benefit from reading. A compulsive read, that’s beautifully written and has the power to hit far too close to home.
About the Author:
Helene Andrea Leuschel gained a Master in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She later acquired a Master in Philosophy, specializing in the study of the mind. Helene has a particular interest in emotional, psychological and social well-being and this led her to write her first novel, Manipulated Lives, a fictional collection of five novellas, each highlighting the dangers of interacting with narcissists. She lives with her husband and two children in Portugal.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.