*Disclaimer – I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
It’s been dark for an hour and I’m the first one up. Usually am. I stare at the ceiling and pretend I’m somewhere else, pretend it’s all been a dream. It took about a week to get used to staying up all night, sleeping all day. We rarely get to bed before noon. That’s Doc’s doing. Nobody wants to rape a girl in broad daylight, the sun spotlighting their sin.
I turn on the lamp next to my bed and look over at the top of the stairs, where Doc puts our food. The same empty plates sit there, stacked and licked clean. It’s been like this for days. Not a crumb in sight. Being hungry is one thing, but when food is the highlight of your day, the days slow down and stretch into something tortuous, maddening. If it weren’t for Alex and Kammie, I’d have taken a broken bulb to my wrist months ago.
The Pale White is the story of how three young girls held captive in horrific conditions finally take their freedom back. But what happens when that door that’s been locked for so long opens up to a they world no longer recognise. Can they regain their sanity and really live normal lives? And more importantly, can they do it together?
I neglected to read a synopsis or anything really about The Pale White before diving straight in and as someone who generally avoids any kind of sexual abuse in media, especially when it involves children, it was a real sucker punch for me to read that first chapter. That part was totally on me and not the fault of the author, but I would like to warn anyone considering this story that though there are no graphic descriptions of sexual abuse as it all happens before the story begins, it is alluded to and not sanitized at all so only read if you can handle the subject matter.
That being said, I think the handling of the incredibly sensitive subject matter is done well and shown through the eyes of one of the girls, gives a much needed human aspect to victims of this kind of abuse. A lot of stories I’ve read have victims of sexual abuse, whether they’re children or adults, as voiceless and unfortunately like tragic objects to pull at heart strings but not act as fully formed characters, and this is not so with The Pale White. Lutzke dove deep into the minds and lives of these girls for this rather short story and gives readers just a glimpse into what they have been forced through but also what they use to cope with that, the personalities that they desperately try to cling to as their captor relentlessly tries to stamp it out of them.
The sisterly nature and the care that these girls have for each other, the genuine love that they feel would bring a tear to anyone’s eye and I think it’s the grounding force for the story. Lutzke makes you care for the individual personalities and not just the fact that these are children in a dire situation – you care about them by name.
The Pale White is a heavy read but the story is in good hands with Lutzke. I think it draws attention to the every day horror that is a reality for far too many people, far too many of them children, and that most of us don’t have to think about. This type of thing happens far too often and is largely swept under the rug. All three girls are written with respect and reverence, and story of The Pale White‘s conclusion will not be easily forgotten.
About the Author-
(Chad Lutzke hails from Battle Creek, MI. where he lives with his wife and kids. For over two decades, he has been a contributor to several different outlets in the independent music and film scene, offering articles, reviews, and artwork. He has written for Famous Monsters of Filmland, Rue Morgue, Cemetery Dance, and Scream magazine. His fiction can be found in a few dozen magazines and anthologies. He is known for his dark, heartfelt novellas which have been praised by Jack Ketchum, Stephen Graham Jones, James Newman, Cemetery Dance and his own mother. You can find him on Twitter, Goodreads, and over at his website.
Links to Buy and Review-
How do you feel about trigger warnings, do you prefer not to know? Should depictions of sexual abuse be sanitized for readers or should it be described in all it’s horrific detail? Have you read any of Chad Lutzke’s other books? Let me know down below!