Captured Soul by Laydin MichaelsCaptured Soul by Laydin Michaels is a well-written and unusual psychological thriller based in the artist community. It also contains a little bit of romance. Well, perhaps, more than a little bit of romance. But if you are looking for a romance, this is not it. It is a thriller, and unusual in that we know the who, why and what before the two main characters do. 

Kadence is a penniless artist in New York. She pours out her emotions into her paintings. Her big break comes when she is spotted by Mallory Tucker and offered a showing at Mallory’s art gallery. The down side to this show is that it will be alongside a woman who destroyed her relationship in college, Sheva, Mallory’s current girlfriend.

Mallory Tucker is the daughter of Sanford Tucker, a famous painter. She has no painting ability, although she has been brought up amongst artists and has a great appreciation for art. She manages an art gallery and is becoming very successful, despite feeling inadequate as the daughter of a strong-willed, and vital, painter. Mallory is in a relationship with Sheva that, when we first see it, is very dark. Sheva plays with Mallory’s emotions and manipulates her into doing what she wants.

The Characters

Kadence Munroe is an artist with a lot of emotional baggage. When her father left home, her grandmother gave her a box of paints and a sketchpad and told her to paint herself happy. Since that time, she has always used painting as a way to deal with emotional trauma and escaping.  Kadence also has the baggage of an ex girlfriend’s criticism of her work. While at college, her girlfriend, a fellow artist, described her work as “not being special and …pictures of nothing”.

Michaels has taken the characteristics expected of an artist, such as being temperamental, passionate and perhaps edgy and played on this to create Kadence, Sanford and Sheva. Each of the artists has different elements. Sanford is confident, bright and intuitive. Kadence reflects a more of a middle role in that she is passionate, but uses her painting to echo sadness and loneliness. Sheeva is dark, with controlling and almost emotionless behaviour. It is very cleverly done. As we get to know each of them through the story, then it is much easier to see their artistic personalities coming out.

Mallory, meanwhile, is completely different. I know she has issues with trying to live up to what she thinks her mother expects from her, but I’m not sure that I like her. She seems to want everything on her terms and is brash and self-confident enough to get it. She doesn’t listen to advice, nor accept help, and her relationship with Kadence made me feel sorry for Kadence.

Sheva is a sculptor and has a set of bronzes being shown at Mallory’s gallery. We are immediately troubled by her. She is the cause of Kadence’s girlfriend leaving her in college, and her relationship with Mallory is difficult. She is the catalyst for all the story of all three women.

The Writing Style

The way the relationships between the Kadence, Mallory and Sheva are treated, is really interesting. Michaels uses the third person with internal asides. She manages to convey the raw emotions of each as the psychological aspects of the thriller become apparent.

The description of the artistic processes is really interesting and really shows an understanding of the emotionally charged creation.

The abstraction that Kadence uses and how that happens are well done, and as the reader we are there with her, pouring our emotions into the paint.

The sculpting process is similarly described and the casting of the bronzes gives you an idea of the heat, the weight and the overall difficulties of the process.

The Pros

This psychological thriller is very good. The understanding Michaels has, of both the physical and emotional artistic process, is excellent and she selects some beautiful ways to communicate this to us.

The Cons


The Conclusion

We don’t have enough psychological thrillers in lesfic, and this is a good one. I hope Michaels will write us some more. Go buy it!

Excerpt from Captured Soul by Laydin Michaels

“Okay. When I paint, I don’t plan. I don’t know ahead of time what I’m going to create. That’s one reason I’m an abstractionist. I paint what I feel. Maybe I wake up in the morning and realize I can’t make my rent, so I get swallowed up by fear and anxiety. What I do with that is pull it out and put it on canvas. Maybe I have a wonderful night with a beautiful woman. Maybe I see, in her, a reflection of self I’d forgotten or denied. I pull that out and put it on canvas. When I’m sad, angry, defeated, I make it into art. It’s what I do, and when I do, I heal. I feel better about me, about them, about everything. It’s all I am.”

Mallory felt each word and knew it for truth. This was how Kadence managed to create such moving pieces with such muted edges. She painted her emotions. No wonder Mallory had felt so drawn to her work. She was putting all of herself into it.

“That’s amazing. I feel all of that when I look at your pieces. When your show opens, that story is going to spark your sales. People these days shut themselves off from their emotions too often. Your work makes them feel. It’s cathartic. Trust me, you’re going to do well.”

“I’ll have to take your word for that. It feels really weird to think of my work opening other people’s emotions. I guess I use my work to rip mine out, so I don’t have to feel them anymore.”

“Why don’t you want to feel them?” Kadence sighed and looked away from her.

“They hurt. Not feeling is better than feeling. So, I take them out, put them on canvas, and I don’t have to deal with them anymore.”

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Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number: 9781626398795
  • Publisher: Bold Stroke Books

Laydin Michaels Online

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Note: I received a free review copy of Captured Soul by Laydin Michaels. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.

About the author

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I am from near Bournemouth in the UK and live on a lesfic book diet of thrillers, adventure, crime and law stories. I also devour every sci-fi, fantasy and dystopian book I can get my hands on. I have a particular love of stories of people in uniform!

When I am not reading and reviewing, I am at a beach somewhere in my camper van or playing in a brass band.