Title: Manipulated Lives
Author: H.A Leuschel
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and a half!
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.
Just like with killers, I have an unhealthy fascination with manipulators. Human behavior makes for a compelling subject. We all come across manipulation at some point in our lives. Maybe we even use it sometimes! (Don’t deny it!) Consciously or not, for the greater good or for our own sake, for a detail or for bigger plans.
At least I had learned the most important skill in life — predict, control, and use others without them ever suspecting it.
Manipulated Lives puts faces and stories together to offer a (dark!) rainbow of manipulations to witness. Every story has a unique voice so that it never feels you are reading the same thing over and over again. I have been there and there is no fun in it. The teenager does sound like a teenager, and you won’t find an old lady using youngsters slang. The diversity of characters makes it very interesting to read. Every time I reached another story, I wondered who would be the victim, what would the manipulator sound like, which can only mean the author did a good job in giving you an array of diverse and compelling characters.
It is tiring, exhausting, and in cases like this, downright gruelling to observe the human mind at its worst.
The writing is different with every story; complex and dark at times, unsuspicious and light at others. Depending on the narrator, you get motives and inner thoughts that help you get a better understanding of the situation. I felt sorry, I became angry, and I tried to understand, with more or less success! Empathy has its limits! There are no deep psychological analyses, just the right words to explain, justify, denounce, to realize manipulation is silent and invisible, but it holds tight and has the power to destroy in different ways.
Always spot-on, the book depicts five of the dozens of images of manipulations filling the world. Some could call them clichés, but the thing is they become clichés because you can find an endless number of them in life. Pretty scary thought!
I suppose one could lose their innocence either through their own actions or through what others do to them.
Overall, Manipulated is a fast and enjoyable read served by a good writing style, and a reminder that manipulation is everywhere.
I would like to thank the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
Find her on Twitter: @HALeuschel