30509344Five 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.

….Full blurb on Goodreads

*I received a free copy of this book directly from the author in exchange for an honest review* 

I am going to start this review off with something that’s niggling on my mind. This collection of 5 stories around manipulation offers a truly captivating, yet emotionally exhausting read and even though a quick internet search tells me that men are more likely to have narcissistic tendencies than women, I would have loved to have more of a balance in the book. Out of the 5 stories, only one of them had a female narcissisistic pervert, <SPOILER>and even this was delivered as a twist prior to which the reader was made to believe that the man/husband/father was the manipulator</SPOILER>. To give it to you straight, this felt a little bit unfair to me. There, I said it… and that was the only ‘negative’ thing I have to comment on.

As far as psychological fiction goes- this collection of 5 different lives dealing with a manipulator was an intense read because as I read each story they truly felt real. And scary. We have characters, victims of manipulation, from all walks and ages of life, ‘imprisoned’ by the unbeatable force in their lives brought on by their blind love fuelled by their ignorance of multiple red flags. The characters in each of their stories either was lucky enough to learn their lesson early on, or ended up having a soul full of regrets around their past mistake of ignoring the warning signs. Look… I love psychology, human beings are fascinating- what drives them, what shatters them, the list of various reasonings and triggers are endless, but I readily admit that I don’t even know the half of what goes on with the human mind. Keeping this in mind, it would be unfair of me to offer any deeper analysis around the topic… It’s fascinating nonetheless!

In terms of choices with characters you already know I would have wished a more balanced male v female approach, however, all the characters that were chosen for this collection were unique. Ages, backgrounds and their personal reasonings were all different and for that I am grateful- it eliminated the risk of repetition. The writing and execution of each story was solid and enjoyable to read. Very very strong indeed, in terms of managing to pull me into the ongoings of fictional characters and their thoughts and emotions. I found it very easy to empathize and connect with each of the victims, which made the reading experience that much more intimate and personal.

I have two favorite stories out of the five: Tess and Tattoos  really pulled on my heartstrings- a long life lived; the feelings of loneliness, regret… and that ending. I admit here, quite honestly, I dislike people&society quite often, a bit of a misanthropic tendency, but if there is one thing that manages to bring a tear to my eye is a thought of an elderly person alone. Imagining the weight and feeling of solitude I have often noticed among elderly in a community, just simply breaks my heart! Spell I enjoyed so much because of the twists and turns of the story. It was ingenious in terms of story delivery!

My rating: 4 stars. I highly recommend reading this book.