Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

Just finished reading Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes and frankly I’m staggered that this is a debut novel!

Basically this book is all about obsession in it’s different forms and tells a fairly creepy yet gripping story of domestic violence.  The story is told in two different timelines and concentrates on Cathy.  Cathy as she was a few years ago (2004), happy go lucky, bit of a party animal, group of fairly wild friends, late nights, lots of laughs and Cathy as she is now in (2007).  2007 Cathy is not the same person at all.  Basically, earlier version Cathy meets a nice young man!  Good looking, well dressed, sexy, funny, got a job, bit mysterious.  All her friends think he’s the bees knees and the camels hips.  What can go wrong?  Enter obsession in it’s first guise.  The stalker guy.  Lee.  He takes over, slowly at first with little unobtrusive things that cause self doubt until finally he is totally controlling Cathy’s every move.  And, eventually, he turns violent.  Things reach a head when Cathy plans her escape!

Reading alongside the earlier story we learn about Cathy 2007 and here enters obsession in it’s guise of OCD.  These chapters are unbelievable and quite painful to read.  Cathy’s life is completely dictated by her OCD.  She has to rise at the crack of dawn just so that she’ll be able to arrive at work (almost) on time after having undertaken countless checks of her apartment before leaving.  On returning home at night she then takes at least 1.5 hours to recheck the apartment – and that is assuming she isn’t exhausted and can complete the checks correctly. And these are just a few of the things that control Cathy.  She has no friends and no social life and lives life on the edge of exhaustion and on the verge of panic.  She is trying to turn things around though and with the help of a new neighbour who seems to recognise some of Cathy’s symptoms she is starting to make tiny steps forwards – until she receives a phone call from the police which brings everything crashing down.

This is a difficult review to write because it tackles such difficult subjects.  Domestic violence, stalking and obsessive compulsive disorders.  They don’t particularly sound like the ingredients for cheerful reading and yet in spite of this I found this story compelling.  I read it in two days, virtually ignored the weekend in order to do so, and frankly it was an emotional read (okay, I may have got a bit weepie there at one point – and I consider myself to be a bit of a tough cookie as a rule.)

There is a lot of detail going on here, particularly in Cathy’s story about OCD.  I thought the level of detail was necessary to the story though in order to reinforce Cathy’s obsessions to the reader – I think if you were just told once about her rituals you’d put it to the back of your mind and it wouldn’t be as powerful as having to read about them all the time, so, whilst this can seem a bit repetitive at times I thought it was relevant.  There is also a certain level of violence, graphic language and sexual content.  I didn’t think any of it was gratuitous or overly explicit.  You were simply being made aware of what was going on.

I think what Elizabeth Haynes managed to do really well was write Lee.  He is so wrong!  The thing is you can just imagine him.  He’s so perfect on the outside but so sinister within.  He’s devious, creepy and just a total ‘not right’.  That’s what kept the tension for me and just plain gave me the shivers.  And the fact that Cathy seems to be all alone in the knowledge of Lee’s true character and is just really terrorised by him – even before he ratchets up the stakes.  It really brings home the fact that you really can’t judge a person on their appearance.  it also makes you reconsider the number of times you’ve thought ‘why don’t people get out of these relationships’.  This book demonstrates how difficult that really is.

Obviously things steadily reach a dramatic finale in both storylines.  I wouldn’t describe it as a thriller particularly although there was plenty of suspense and tension.  If you’re looking more for a thriller I don’t think this will cut it for you.  It is undeniably tense and there are certainly a few goosebump moments.

In terms of criticisms – I was a bit sceptical about the fact that all Cathy’s friends seemed to desert her – I’m not saying it isn’t plausible but I think those parts of the story should have had more built into them to make them believable to the reader.  Otherwise it almost seemed as though they all just dropped out of the story.

On the whole I would definitely recommend this – although I would be cautious about who to.  It’s certainly not YA and it could be too close to home for some people to read about.

Into the Darkest Corner

Into the Darkest Corner


2 Responses to “Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes”

  1. TBM

    Sounds interesting and powerful. Now I’m prone to getting weepy so I may have to pass.

  2. lynnsbooks

    I felt so sad for what she was going through! But, maybe I was in a strange mood when I read that bit so it might have affected me more than normal!
    I thought it was a good book, and I think the author was previously a police woman – perhaps she’s seen this type of thing!
    Lynn 😀

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