Abuse, Blog Tour, Book Review, Psychological, Rachel's Random Resources, Short Stories

Manipulated Lives by H. A. Leuschel

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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.


I chose this book of short stories because of my experience with manipulation. The stories are eye-opening and can happen to anyone. 

The author’s reason for writing this collection of stories was “after witnessing first-hand the psychological damage that a narcissistic manipulator did to a close relative”.

There are 5 novellas included which look at manipulation from several different perspectives including victim and manipulator, man and woman, and old and young.

If you can interpret what goes on through the eyes of another, you are okay, you’ll not fall into the trap of the cunning. I know all too well. Stepping into their trap is like being sucked into a dark, narrow hole.

Tess and Tattoos is a very sad story about a new friendship between a lonely octogenarian with a terrible secret and a sympathetic nurse in an elderly home. 

The only rule that David asked me to respect – apart from never posting pictures on social media depicting my many activities with him and Leo, changing my wardrobe, and accepting that his work was tough and demanding – was never to ask any questions about Leo’s mum.

The Spell is about a naive and kind young woman who is coerced into the lives of a handsome man and his adorable son only to question the man’s motives and secretive life.

Luke knew exactly how to trap her and make her think that she’d been chosen by the most attractive boy in school. He had seen her blush, her looks of adoration, and he had calmly watched as she had fallen right into the trap that he’d prepared just for her, the same way he’d designed clever ploys for all the other girls before her.

Runaway Girl is about a teenage girl who saves her money so she can runaway from her family and her mother’s alcoholism. However, the best looking boy in school is suddenly interested in her, or is it her money?

At the bottom I can make out the faces of my two children and the copy of a newspaper headline: ‘Man stabs wife to death in front of their two teenage children’. I can see it clearly now. That is me alright, and there are the women I met, and also there are my children who had to witness my delusional rage. That was a bad slip up is the thought coming to my mind.

The Narcissist is about a man who murdered his wife in front of his teenage children and the psychiatrist who tries to convince him to take responsibility for it.

She had tried to make him work and, to put it bluntly, he hated work, so invented every illness, bully, discomfort and sore foot in the long list of excuses one could come up with in order to avoid doing any of it. And he knew that his mother hated seeing him in pain, any sort of pain for that matter.  

My Perfect Child is about an over-indulgent mother who finds no fault in her son and his behavior. The son learns to manipulate his mother and continues the cycle.

Manipulation and narcissism can touch anyone. Perhaps someone will see themselves in these stories as either a victim or a  manipulator.  Perhaps someone knows of a friend or family member who this has happened to or is happening to right now. It is more common than you think.

Each story is sad, unnerving and true to life. A fascinating read!

There is a lot of research involved in this book and Ms. Leuschel’s website has a couple of informative articles that one may find helpful if you think you are in a manipulative relationship.


Manipulated lives



AuthorHelene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.

Follow Helene on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.