Manipulated Lives by H.A Leuschel is a collection of five short novellas that follow different people caught or damaged by their relationship with a manipulative individual. Each section tells a different story and reads like a cautionary tale.
When the author approached me to read this collection, I was initially hesitant. I rarely read (and enjoy) short stories or novellas. I find that I cannot connect to the characters enough to enjoy the central plot. Leuschel broke this mold for me. I found that each of her stories focused more on the plot and the psychology of lies and manipulation, enough so, that my interest was kept and I was actually looking forward to what the next segment would bring. I flew through this book in a sitting.
I found these stories particularly interesting. The manipulator is one of the key components to a lot of psychological suspense novels or thrillers. In fact, one of the most popular narrative techniques (as of lately) is portraying the “unreliable narrator” (think Gone Girl, Girl on the Train etc). I loved that Leuschel changes it up and gives most of her narrative perspectives to the victims of these types of people. In this work, we hear very little from the perspective of the manipulator but instead hear from the people who are directly affected by them.
Although I enjoyed each of the stories, my favourite sections were the second (Tess and Tattoos) and the fourth (Runaway Girl). I found that I went through these the fastest and was the most disappointed when they finished.
I didn’t find that these stories fit my typical matrix of what I would consider a suspense thriller, but I did find that each story had their own unique twist. They certainly focused more on the psychological aspects that lies and manipulations play on those around them and also make each reader think about what types of manipulation they may have encountered in their own lives.
Overall, this collection is a nice, quick read. I would recommend it to anyone who is wanting to try something different while still being sucked into the psychology of what, I think, makes the thriller genre most interesting.
Thanks to the author for providing me a copy of this book; it was a pleasure to provide an honest review.