Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Manipulated Lives by H A Leuschel

Manipulated Lives by H A Leuschel
Self published in June 2016.

Featured in Cover Characteristics: Hands  and included in my Vegan Bookshop

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the author

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £7.99 (PB)
Wordery : from £7.98 (PB)
Waterstones : unavailable
Amazon : from $4 / £2.99 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

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.

Author Interview with Helene:

Why did you write Manipulated Lives?
I decided to write the book, after witnessing first-hand the psychological damage that a narcissistic manipulator did to a close relative. Most manipulators are very shrewd, and research shows that it’s all too easy for a person to fall under their subtle control, with many victims not even realizing this. I didn’t want to write a self-help book as such, but short fictional psychological thrillers, that would hopefully not only be compelling to read, but would highlight the tell-tale signs of narcissistic abuse and its consequences via fictional true to life scenarios.

Who would want to read this book?
Manipulated Lives would appeal to people who have experienced narcissistic abuse or know someone who is possibly under the threat of being drawn into a toxic relationship. I’ve also been told by readers that it made them question their own relationships…could they have a partner, family member, friend or work colleague manipulating them? It would also appeal to readers with an interest in psychology and personality disorders in particular, as well as fans of psychological thrillers.

Having previously read Leuschel's stand-alone novella, My Sweet Friend, I was keen to experience more work from this author and delighted to get a copy of Manipulated Lives. The five stories in this collection explore narcissistic personalities from the points of view of these people's victims, the narcissists themselves and, in my favourite story, My Perfect Child, in the words of a mother who blames herself for her son's abusive behaviour. I love Leuschel's ability not only to understand human behaviour and motivation, but also to put this knowledge across to readers without her stories feeling at all like lectures or preaching. It helps that she has a deft hand for characterisation whether that be portraying an elderly, isolated care home resident (in Tess And Tattoos) or a naive teenager's first love (in Runaway Girl). These chilling stories are gripping reading in their own right, and I like that they can also serve almost as a kind of morality tale showing us potentially intimidating behaviours to be on the lookout for in other people and also how we might be subconsciously attracting narcissistic personalities to ourselves.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by H A Leuschel / Short stories / Books from Belgium


  1. Some people are just scary :(

  2. Now that's an interesting idea for a book.

    1. Helene really gets into her characters' minds too

  3. I appreciate the author's take on this and writing it this way instead of a self-help book. So often those books don't help the people they are meant to, because of the stigma of needing help. I have come across one or two of these people in my lifetime. One was a boss, which was a really crappy situation, and luckily the other was a passing acquaintance.

    1. I could see traits in Manipulated Lives that, with hindsight, I recognised in people I used to know, but wasn't aware of at the time. I hope I will be wiser in the future

  4. This definitely seems like an important read! Much needded in the community right now.

    - Aimee @ Aimee, Always

    1. Yes, I hope this one gains a wide readership

  5. Sounds interesting, and I love the author's idea/reasoning behind it. A lot of people don't read self-help, and it doesn't always have the same impact or feel as immersive or help you understand things quite as well as a story. Sounds like this was well written!

    1. Exactly! I think Manipulated Lives' fiction approach has made it far more accessible and memorable than a self-help approach would have done.