Chad has written for Famous Monsters of Filmland, Rue Morgue, Cemetery Dance, and Scream magazine. He's had dozens of short stories published, and some of his books include: OF FOSTER HOMES & FLIES, STIRRING THE SHEETS, SKULLFACE BOY, THE SAME DEEP WATER AS YOU, THE PALE WHITE, THE NEON OWL and OUT BEHIND THE BARN co-written with John Boden. Lutzke's work has been praised by authors Jack Ketchum, Richard Chizmar, Joe R. Lansdale, Stephen Graham Jones, Tim Waggoner and his own mother.
So I will only give something a 5 star rating when it really captures my attention and leaves a lasting impression in some way. When I read the premise of this story, my stomach turned upside down. I was fully prepared for a deeply upsetting, disturbing, and uncomfortable experience. And don't let me make it sound like this story is full of sunshine and lollipops, as it has a good deal of very distressing content. But Chad Lutzke has such a way with his words here, that I give him the highest of praise. The story is only a hundred pages, and he makes full use of that minimal space to develop the plot and his characters. He does not detail the scenes of rape, molestation, and other such sickening acts. He lets you, very tactfully and gracefully, know what has happened, but that is it. And that was plenty. I also did struggle a bit with how to approach similar subjects in my first Preternatural book, but took a very similar approach to what Lutzke did. All you really have to know is that something happened. You do not have to vividly describe certain types of horror ad nauseam to make the reader experience it. But beyond all that, I felt so deeply for the three girls and the type of torture they were put through. The different traumas that they each had to endure and suffer through, even once it's all over, and the lifetime of struggles ahead of them. You just want to see the treacherous circumstances end for these young ladies so that they can begin their roads to recovery. And to some degree of stability and normalcy. I will not spoil anything, but I finished this book feeling a good deal of optimism. Very emotional and poignant content here, and a wonderful display of Chad Lutzke's talent.
Lutzke is a brain surgeon. His words will infiltrate your mind and become like liquid fingers that will spread until it finds your empathy zone, enfold it and squeeze until your eyes water...until your heart will feel like shattering into a million pieces.
I didn’t like the ending, but it is a personal preference, and I will take one on the chin this time and say he ended the story correctly to achieve what he wanted to say.
The book started strong with three young women kept as sex slaves in the attic by a man named Doc. They can escape, kill Doc and in the course of events you'll learn much about their different backgrounds and ways of life. The vampire story (Alex) is also plausible and tragic. What about Kimmie and her dark origin? At the end the story turns a bit too bittersweet and cheesy for my taste. You'll find many elements and phrases from other works of the author here. But to be completely honest, this one didn't as fully convince me as the other two novellas I read. But it was well written and might be interesting for fans.
Originally reviewed for Cemetery Dance September 2019 On matters of horror fiction and what should or should not be defined as such, nobody gets the last word. For some people, a horror story is only as good as its ability to scare. For me, the horror genre is a spectrum, and feeling scared falls somewhere on that emotional spectrum along with a host of other feelings. Judging a book based on its ability to belong in a genre, employing the sole criteria of fear, is too subjective and limiting in my opinion.
Chad Lutzke’s new book, The Pale White, deals with the subject of sex trafficking and the emotional, physical and mental effects it has on its victims. I’ll let discerning readers decide for themselves if that sounds horrific enough to be considered horror fiction. For this reader, I find the subject matter terrifying. To be honest, in the hands of just any author, sex trafficking is taboo enough to be the kiss of death. I’m not going to enthusiastically anticipate a deep dive into the disturbing elements of what happens to victims who are sexually abused. But Chad Lutzke isn’t any author and his audience trusts him. I trust him.
And so I did anticipate this book because I know that Lutzke would handle this sensitive subject with respect and dignity.
The Pale White offers readers a short time spent with three main protagonists that you are immediately drawn to and invested in. This is the magic of Lutzke’s writing. What might take other writers the length of a novel to do, Lutzke manages in a novella of one hundred pages. It’s something about the authenticity of his writing style and the speed in which readers experience that empathetic connection through the dramatic events typically kicking off on page one.
Alex, Stacia and Kammie have been kidnapped, held captive and forced to perform sex acts to paying customers. They have been in one location for an undisclosed amount of time. Their captor is named Doc.
There’s a temptation to read too fast because the story is so compelling; the pages easily fly by but if you blink, you’ll miss everything. You’ll miss how each girl deals with her victimhood in remarkably distinct ways. You’ll forget to ponder the significance of vampires. The fact that a quaint beach house in an idyllic location is actually a prison…the prisoners enduring unspeakable tortures at the hands of their abusers.
I think that because this is a novella and it’s easy to read, one could hastily assume it felt rushed or should have been longer, but those assumptions do a disservice to the magic of good storytelling. It’s this reader’s opinion that Lutzke knows exactly what he’s capable of and how much time or how many pages he needs to accomplish what he sets out to do.
I loved this tale. I felt like it was perfect in every way and I especially loved the ending. Actually, correction: I needed that ending, and I’m grateful Lutzke gave it to his readers.
The Pale White is painful and soul crushing. But it’s also a story about resilience and hope in the face of unspeakable horrors. My favorite kind of story.
This book was sent to me by the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. Full video review to come!
First things first, I'll read absolutely anything Chad Lutzke writes. Last year, I read the majority of his books and loved each and every one. This man has yet to write a story that I haven't connected to, so it's no surprise that I'm awarding his latest book five stars. I knew from the moment I read the synopsis of The Pale White that I was going to love this book, therefore my expectations were very high. Fortunately, this small but powerful novella stood tall against those expectations, leaving me content and satisfied.
The Pale White follows three girls who have been subjected to sex-trafficking: Alex (a goth who’s convinced she’s a vampire), Stacia (a teenager who spent her childhood raised by an alcoholic mother), and Kammie (a young mute girl who befriends a houseplant in order to cope with the nightmare each of these girls share). The remainder of the book takes place on one fateful night when the girls decide to take action against their abusers.
As with all of Lutzke's books, The Pale White relies on real-life horrors of the emotional variety. This one is especially heavy due to the subject matter, but it is one that I strongly encourage reading as long as it isn't a personal trigger. If you think reading this book would dredge up bad memories, I would avoid it. But if you are like most and turn a blind eye on the subject just to avoid feeling uncomfortable... I think you should give this a try. Human trafficking is a subject that isn't being discussed nearly enough. As a brother of five sisters, it is something that worries me terribly so I always keep my eyes peeled for the signs. Books such as The Pale White help with that. It puts you in the heads of these girls and shows you exactly how dire this situation is, how important it is to learn about it instead of pretending it doesn't exist. It's hard to read about, yes, but it is important for people who otherwise know nothing about it. In other words, this novella teaches awareness, caution, and empathy.
Beautifully told, heartbreaking, important, and hopeful--The Pale White is one of the best books I read in 2019.
Like John F.D. Taff, a writer known as “The King of Pain” to his readers, Chad Lutzke is an author known for his ability to tap into to his audience’s emotions and wreak them. Lutzke focuses on the human element, forgoing monsters, creatures, and demons to showcase the awful deeds mankind is more than capable of inflicting upon itself without any kind of supernatural or otherworldly assistance, and plumbing the emotional fallout of these actions.
In The Pale White, Lutzke introduces us to a trio of girls, each of whom has been abducted by Doc and inducted into a sex slave ring that he runs out of his home. Alice has been there the longest, going on nearly a decade, while high schooler Staci was abducted roughly a year ago. While both have had a horrifying existence under Doc’s roof, the most tragic is nine-year-old Kammie, made nearly mute by her experiences and whose only reliable companion is the potted fern she tends to. The girls are forced to live in darkness because, as Staci explains in this novella’s opening chapter, “Nobody wants to rape a girl in broad daylight, the sun spotlighting their sin.”
The Pale White, of course, is an incredibly tragic story, built around the heinous and depraved actions of men who rape, but the sex slave ring is not Lutzke’s primary focus. Rather than inundating readers with one deplorable sequence of sexual violence after another, Lutzke starts his story where many other authors would have finished theirs, with the murder of Doc and the girls escape from captivity. What follows is a twenty-four hour journey as these girls decide what to do next and how, now that they are free from Doc’s attic, they will escape Doc’s shadow.
These girls are victims, but they are also, most certainly, survivors, and that’s the focus of Lutzke’s story. The Pale White is about these girls reclaiming both their freedom and their strength. This aspect of the story shines through most powerfully in Kammie. Doc has wreaked so much havoc upon her development, both mentally and physically, and it’s questionable if she’ll ever fully recover. Taken as an infant, she’s never known normalcy, only abuse, and you can’t help but wonder if she’s been doomed by her own birth. There’s a moment roughly two-thirds in the story where Kammie asks such a powerful question to Staci that it absolutely stole my breath and let me wondering what kind of life is ahead for her, if she’s even allowed to have one.
Although these girls were each trafficked for sex, the real story here is one of redemption and reclamation. It’s about escaping an awful past in order to build a better future, and doing so as a found family. While there’s an inescapable darkness at the core of this book, it’s all about finding the light, and under Lutzke’s deft guidance, The Pale White shines brightly.
[Note: I received an advance copy of this title from the publisher.]
This book was generously provided for my reading pleasure by the good folks of Crystal Lake Publishers. I wasn’t familiar with the author’s work prior to this, but this is the best case scenario for checking out new work, novella format and from a quality trusted publisher. And sure enough, turned out to be a good read. A very quick read, but one with a sizable emotional punch. A tale of abuse, survival and second chances. The Pale White is a group of three girls of varied ages, trapped in a basement and rented out for sex. For years. The youngest can’t or won’t speak, the oldest is convinced she’s a vampire. Stac, the middle one, hasn’t been inside long enough for this sort of thing. But it’s all as bleak and dire as you might imagine until the way they find their way out. This is a story of their journey into the light, as it were. The daylight, not the other, more morbid, connotation. It’s a very emotionally engaging journey. The author did a great job of ensuring that from the very start with quality dramatic writing. And I didn’t know what to expect at all, having gone into this without so much as a plot summary. The only thing is the ending, it just seems too optimistic to me. Maybe that says more about the reader than the story in this case. But for such a dark story, I was kinda expecting a dark twist at the end, to punch the narrative up into a direction more consistent with the darkness of the story. Again, this is a completely personal thing, though. I absolutely get why the author ended the story the he did, I even respect that sort of positivity, it just didn’t quite jive for me. I even came up with two alternate endings that did. Both of which my fiancé found disturbing. But that’s just what comes from being a genre fiend for so long. Warped minds and all that. Anyway, though. Good story. Recommended.
This little novella absolutely destroyed me and firmly cemented Chad Lutzke as a new favourite author of mine. Sex trafficking is not an easy subject to write about and Lutzke just handles it beautifully. It’s not coarse and sexualized, it’s painful and it hurts your soul to read and that’s what makes it such a powerful story. I wanted to cry multiple times while reading this, it’s just so absolutely heart breaking and I swear I could feel the girls pain and rage through the pages. The Pale White is by far the most horrifying book I’ve read so far this year, it just gutted me and made me feel sick. This is truly my favourite kind of horror story, real life horror where the monsters are people.
4.0 Stars Well that settles it. Chad Lutze has officially earned a place among my favourite authors.
This is my third time reading Lutzke’s work and, once again, I am blown away by his skills as a writer. In the length of this short novella, Lutzke manages to create such an emotional and gripping narrative that will stay with me for a long time.
Given the subject matter, I feel compelled to give content warnings for all the violence and abuse that go along with sex trafficking. The situations are never described in explicit detail and there are no rape scenes on the page. However, the difficult subject matter is very much at the forefront of this story. The youngest victim is only nine years old, which is particularly hard to stomach as a reader. However, if you can tolerate the difficult topic, this is not a story to miss.
Lukze has always demonstrated a talent for writing well rounded characters, which is very much the case in this novella. All three females felt very realistic. I never would have known they were written by a male author. Of the three characters, the youngest girl, Kammie, easily stole my heart. Her story is so heartbreaking and really pulled at my emotions..
In terms of genre, Lutzke’s stories typically gets shelved within horror, but I almost prefer to describe his work as dark contemporaries. Undoubtedly, there are threads of horror in his writing, but I feel like his work has appeal for a wider readership. .
I would highly recommend this novella to both horror readers as well as those that do not typically pick up the genre. Anyone who loves dark, hard-hitting fiction with excellent characters should absolutely check out Chad Lutzke. This novella is an excellent place to start.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Crystal Lake Publishing.
I will never grow tired of Chad Lutzke’s writing. A story about trauma and real life horrors, The Pale White brings every parent’s worst nightmare to the surface. Throughout this story is a thread of hope though, shown in the found family that these girls have created with each other.
Chad Lutzke has done it again! He just knows how to write amazingly heartbreaking books! With The Pale White, he is able to take a highly sensitive topic like sex trafficking and builds this story of survival, hope, and love. It can be hard to put into words just how great of a storyteller Lutzke is because you are always just left in awe. I highly recommend this story (as I do all the stories of his that I have read). 5 stars!
Well, here I am again - the day after. The new Lutzke has come and gone. I waited on a signed copy this one, so I had to watch as others read and posted about it. I think I managed to let this one sit for 2 maybe 3 days before devouring it. Take your time, it's just a short novella, you never know how long you will have to wait for the next one - All I can say is I tried.
Maybe it is because they are generally short, maybe it is because they are so damn good, but Chad always jumps the TBR. In the past I have said that I have unread King on my shelf, but absolutely zero unread Lutzke.
This books centers around 3 girls, stolen from their lives and held in a beach house for sex trafficking purposes. A touching, scary story - all to real. Plotting their escape, we get tastes of revenge. Not all of them have memories of a life before this hell that is home. Fear of the unknown, what is outside this prison, is a weight upon them.
Personally, I was left with a familiar feeling when reading Lutzke. I wanted more. I wanted more revenge, I wanted more about our characters, I just wanted more. That is not to say that there was anything missing, but it definitely felt that this could be a novella that may eventually evolve into something bigger. Only Chad knows.
After being held against their will in a house used for sex trafficking, three girls plan their escape. Alex is a hardened goth-punk who’s convinced she’s a vampire with a penchant for blood. Stacia is seventeen-year-old raised by an alcoholic mother, her fellow prisoners the only family she’s ever truly had. Kammie is the youngest of the three, a mute who finds solace in a houseplant. But does life outside the house offer the freedom they’d envisioned? Or is it too late, the scars too deep? A coming-of-age tale of revenge that explores a friendship and the desperate lengths they will go through to ensure they stay united, held together by the scars that bind them.
One of the saddest books I've ever read, yet it offers a warm glimpse of hope at the end. I had the same feeling reading this as I did reading The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum and Gerald's Game by Stephen King which I consider to be two of the most disturbing books I've ever read. The Pale White didn't escalate to quite such extreme heights of violence and suffering as the other two, but despite not being as violent or visceral, the emotional trauma of three severely abused girls was just as hard to get through because of how horrifyingly realistic and believable their circumstances were. Child trafficking is all too real and the mental and emotional impact it has on survivors is heartbreaking, but there's always hope. A rollercoaster of thoughts and feelings from such a short book, it definitely gives you something to think about when it comes to how you can do little things to help those that suffer in silence.
** Edited as review is now live on Kendall Reviews! **
“It’s been dark for an hour and I’m the first one up.”
I’m going to jump straight to the elephant in the room, so that I can address it and get on with it.
I was a bit nervous reviewing the new Lutzke. My last review of his work; “Same Deep Water As You,” ended up being picked apart and misconstrued by another reviewer. I recognized my review and spoke up about it. We worked together to patch things up regarding what happened, but I still went into this worried about the outcome at the end of everything.
This is my third Lutzke. I enjoyed ‘Out Behind the Barn,’ with John Boden and didn’t mind ‘Same Deep Water As You.’ As I said back then, I just felt ‘Same Deep…’ wasn’t a horror story and it threw me for a loop expecting that.
I approached ‘The Pale White’ as I have with all of Chad’s stuff – I didn’t read the synopsis, but still expected high levels of emotions delivered with excellent writing. Double-check.
The story follows three young, imprisoned prostitutes, held against their will and forced to do horrendous acts that the clients have paid for.
As the story unravels, Lutzke gives us some back story and makes sure to have the reader continuously get emotional. These girls have not ever had anything easy. They’ve lived brutal, awful lives and when a sliver of hope emerges, they pounce. It’s here that Lutzke delivers some Grade A+ gore. From there we get into an absolutely emotional devastating ending. I’m going to try and remain completely spoiler-free, but wow. Sob fest.
It’s interesting for me to see that the older I get, the more emotionally connected I become to stories that feature any part of the book set in the Pacific Northwest. Having grown up in British Columbia, Canada, we always considered ourselves the “upper” Pacific Northwest. Recently The Homecoming by Andrew Pyper, Dead Aware by Eleanor Merry and now The Pale White all feature prominent portions set in the PNW and it seems to connect with something deeper within this reader.
This would have been a one-sitting read if I didn’t have six other books on the go, which works really well with how Chad paces this book. Quick, short bursts of story really ramp everything up in the best ways possible.
I said it back then and I’m saying it again; Lutzke is having a phenomenal indie author moment. Seeing the TOC’s he’s appearing on and the company he keeps continues to drive me as a writer. Between Lutzke and Kealan Patrick Burke, they’ve ensured that DIY as an indie author is possible and something to strive for and be proud.
The story of three girls that have been held against their will and used for sex trafficking. The novella begins by introducing us to these ladies amid their plans for escape. We have Alex, a “goth-punk” who thinks she’s a vampire that drinks blood; Stacia, a daughter of an alcoholic mother that sees her fellow prisoners as her only family; and Kammy, the youngest, a mute that keeps a pet houseplant because she isn’t allowed stuffed animals. As they break their bonds, escape might not lead to the life they’d envisioned. “A coming-of-age tale of revenge that explores a friendship and the desperate lengths they will go through to ensure they stay united, held together by the scars that bind them.” If you’ve read any of Chad Lutzke’s other books, you know that this story is going to kick you in the heart. A deeply emotional story about the fight to overcome the scars of emotional trauma, the fight to trust again and to see the beauty in the world, and the fight to see the good in people when everyone you’ve ever known has been evil. . I loved this little book. I’ve loved everything that I’ve read from Chad Lutzke. The fact that I don’t own all his books, I view as a personal failing. The Pale White gets an enthusiastic ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and my full throated recommendation to anyone that reads.
We're introduced to the story with a punch in the face.
What would you do to survive? What would you do to escape? You only have one chance. This is it.
3 is the strongest shape. A triangle. Firm base. Firm foundation.
And like this book, it started out strong. A great premise. But soon we find the story's slow demise .... into something akin to a flower garden. Once 3 became 2 ... we knew the structure wouldn't hold.
Another great story that pulled at my heart from Chad Lutzke! This story killed me a little inside. The characters are so easy to connect with and you can't help but want them to survive the shit storm they are struggling with. Not just survive, but LIVE, and not have the weight of a horrible situation smother the life from them. If you love Chad's work then I recommend reading this one now.
The Pale White, by Chad Lutzke, opens with a fantastic opening paragraph, which I’m loathe to print here because I don’t want to diminish it through repetition for when you encounter it yourselves – suffice it to say it makes you sit up a little straighter, feel uncomfortable, and makes you aware that you are thrown headfirst into trauma. It sets the tone and the mood begs the reader to continue, to find out how far that trauma goes, and doesn’t stop or skip a beat.
Lutzke is the king of character – his readers bleed along with the fictional victims that inhabit his books. It is so easy to identify with their emotions, even as we are aghast at their situations. The forced sex slave trade is the setting for the book, two women and a child are our victims. Lutzke pans the camera away at the appropriate moments when telling their history, but make no mistake, the trauma shines through in his writing.
I can’t tell you any more of the story without spoiling something – the book is short, and blasts along at an incredible pace, as our trio formulate and execute an escape plan long overdue. Whether it works or not, the aftermath of their attempt, the invisible psychological ties – all of it adds up to a novella that disturbs wonderfully.
As with all of Chad’s work, hope is an underlying theme, and the realization of change for the better also makes its presence felt in the reader’s ravaged emotions.
This was great. Chad has a gift for taking horrific situations and lending them empathy. He injects good into his stories, shows kindness, presents both sides of human nature and passes no comment, gives us heroes and heroines to cheer on and make our own judgment call on their actions, both brutal and forgiving. It’s a level of trust in the reader that really gets under your skin.
And that opener. Fantastic.
This is an easy 5 out of 5 ⭐ ‘s. Again, I couldn’t get enough.
Great read! It was emotional, disturbing, and heart-breaking. I was cheering for these girls while also questioning their immediate actions. Chad Lutzke really makes you feel for this trio and care about them. I may even have felt my eyes tear up a bit towards the end. 5/5 survivor skulls 💀
“I feel tainted, like the world isn’t ready for us, or maybe doesn’t want us, and we’re not ready for it. But we’re not alone. We’re sisters.”
It must be a difficult thing for a male author to write a successful coming-of-age tale that centers around girls. Lutzke ups this challenge as he tackles a subject and experience that is (but not always) inherently female. Personally, I think he does a good job at nailing down the internal and external struggles of this particular group of girls. Not unlike Skullface Boy, Lutzke shows once again that the outcast and downtrodden have strength, have voices which need to be heard.
Reader discovery is important in this novella. It reads quick and dirty, but there are many things to pick up on along the way. At only 98 pages, the book HAS to move in order to get it all in. My recommendation is to TRY to slow down – let it soak in. I have a difficult time with this sometimes, and I found myself missing a plot development and having to go back and re-read. Which is fine. Once I got the hang of it, it was smooth sailing. I LIKE that I had to work for it, all too often everything is laid out for me, and I get lazy.
I haven’t read everything Chad Lutzke has written. Almost. I will say that this novella, while wholly different, shares themes and threads with other books of his. It is clear he has something to say about the overlooked, the beauty within the brutality of life, and the human experience. A must-read author for me, I can’t wait to see what Chad Lutzke spins for us next.
I rarely read a book's synopsis, and I didn't read this one, so I went into THE PALE WHITE completely blind not knowing how dark things were going to get. There are a few moments here that make for a really difficult read, there is no doubt about that, but they are always handled extremely well. It's Chad Lutzke, I knew they would be. In some ways this might even be his best work to date. There is so much to like. The entire story idea is fantastic. I love the vampire element, and the pale white name is just genius. It all works beautifully, really original. And of course, the writing is first class as always. Effortless and super tight, but this is where the problem lies for me, because I felt this time the story really did need to be bigger. There was so much more that needed explored. It's still wonderful, don't get me wrong, and its absolutely worthy of your time. You'll be pushed to find a better hard-hitting short story than this. When I finished it, I literally had to take a breath. My thoughts were all over the place. I felt emotionally drained. Chad deals with difficult subject matters in a way no one else can. Huge fan of his work. Highly recommended. 4.5
Some books have changed my life, made me a new person, opened my eyes, such as Susan Brownmiller's AGAINST OUR WILL: MEN, WOMEN, AND RAPE, which was my Thanksgiving reading in 1975. Now there is Chad Lutzke's PALE WHITE, whose traumatic subject matter exploded on Page One resulting in an immediate impulse to shut my eyes, cover my ears, toss the book, and run away screaming. I did none of that. Instead, I held on, endured the shocks, faced the trauma, screamed imprecations at the villains, empathetically hugged the victims.
And I am so glad I did. There is such incredible power in this novella. If it can be said of fiction that it shames the abusers, strengthens the survivors, and Speaks Truth To Power, let it be said of PALE WHITE.