By Mike Duke
Ashley, a young college girl with a horrific past, is immediately thrust into a living hell when she is kidnapped one night. In the lair of her captor she will be forced to choose between submission and defiance, between folding beneath his punishment or finding the strength to endure and seize an opportunity to kill the man and escape. But Ashley will also have to face the horrors of her past in this twisted game he has prepared for her. Can she prevail against the demons that have made her frail and weak as well as the sadist before her? And if so, what may she become in the process?
When I first read the synopsis for Ashley’s Tale, I was not terribly moved. In fact, I was a tad disappointed. They synopsis gave me the impression that this story was similar to a hundred other stories about the kidnapped abuse victim. I put off reading it for that reason. I have never read such a story that really got it, got what it is like to be an abuse victim, got what it is like to be trapped in a second horrifying situation. I had not found one. Until now.
Ashley’s Tale is that story.
So, that being said, we must start out with a warning.
While this is far from the most graphic or horrific story I have ever read, it is the most realistic for the subject matter. Much like other reviewers have said, Ashley’s Tale is like a punch to the gut. The realism is gruesome and moving and very, very disturbing. It is terribly, wonderfully frightening in that regard. But if you have abuse in your past, you might find yourself in an unexpected emotional state while reading the story. Especially in the middle.
Now, realistic traumatic read aside, Ashley’s Tale truly is a gripping tale. Mike Duke grabs you from the very beginning and drags you along against your will with each word, each page. Although I did have to put the story down about midway and step away for a few hours, I knew I just had to know what happened next. The writing is just brilliant.
The characters… ah the characters. I believe we have discussed realism. The characters come to life in a frighteningly believable way. The personality and psychology is well presented and consistent as the story progresses. Unfortunately, the characterization is such a key part of the plot, I hesitate to say too much lest I give away too much of the story. But I will say that there is no disappointment in the characterization to be found.
This is a psychological horror story, let’s be clear on that. But it is not without it’s shocking scenes, let’s also be clear on that. It is fast paced without being rushed, full of action and suspense, and it progresses to a breath stealing twist. Then it drops you to the floor and inflicts an emotional ending on you like a final kick to the kidney.
As a final thought, I would have to say that the synopsis undervalues the story, although I would not really know how to change it. Ashley is not just facing her past and fighting her demons, because in real life it’s not like that. She is facing herself and what was done to her and what she became because of it and how it affects the fresh hell she is in now… because that is what it is really like for abuse victims and this story captures the complete horror of that.
This book is highly recommended.
Get it on Amazon: Ashley’s Tale
About the Author: Mike Duke
“I was a cop for 12 years, but the last 10 years I’ve been teaching Military, Law Enforcement and Bodyguards how to drive fast, do bad ass tactical driving maneuvers as well as hand to hand Combatives. I enjoy martial arts and have been a practitioner since 1989 of various styles. Filipino blade arts are my favorite. Since I was a teenager I’ve loved reading, writing, and watching movies…particularly in the horror genre. I’ve also been a prolific reader of theology and studied quite extensively for a layman. I have a beautiful wife who is very supportive and a son and daughter her are both graduated and out of the house. My baby girl now is my German Shepherd, Ziva. And she’s a Daddy’s girl who loves to play…even when I’m writing. Most recently, Stitched Smile Publications has picked up my novel LOW and I’m part of their family now. Looking forward to publishing lots of work with them!”