The Pale White by Chad Lutzke
Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing | Release Date: Sept. 27, 2019 | Pages: 85
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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.