Review: Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

May 22, 2012 Harper Books, Review, Thriller 6

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (June 5, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0062197258
  • Source: Publisher

Catherine Bailey is a young, attractive, single woman. When she sees Lee, a bouncer at a local club, she’s instantly attracted. He’s breathtakingly gorgeous and when they begin dating, her friends are envious Catherine’s luck at love. Each become just as smitten with Lee as Catherine has, the perfect man in every sense of the word.

However, there is a dark and secretive side to Lee. Uncertain as to what he does for a living during the day, Catherine is even more alarmed when Lee shows up at her apartment, wounds covering his face. He remains secretive, suggesting that he is doing it for her own protection. Their relationship grows, Catherine eventually giving Lee a key to her apartment. They rarely see each other during the week due to Lee’s work schedule, but Catherine repeatedly comes home to see that things in her apartment have been rearranged. Lee eventually admits to entering her apartment in Catherine’s absence. She is wary at first, but his undying affection and unfaltering commitment to her eventually convinces her his actions are harmless. Yet Lee grows possessive of Catherine, demanding that she wear certain clothing, angered when he sees her receiving attention from the opposite sex. Speaking of sex, what started out as passionate lovemaking has begun to frighten Catherine. When she speaks of her concerns to her friends they insist she is blowing things out of proportion. She has the perfect guy; relationships go through peaks and valleys and perhaps it’s just the natural progression of their relationship.

When Lee begins to abuse her, physically and sexually, Catherine attempts an escape. This action forever changes her life.

Fast forward four years later. Lee is in prison for nearly killing Catherine. Catherine now lives alone, post traumatic stress disorder and an obsessive need to check her locks have taken over her life. She meets Stuart, her upstairs neighbor, an attractive and kind man. She feels safe in his presence. He encourages Catherine to seek counseling for her disorders and she agrees, finally seeing the light at the end of a dark tunnel. Her life seems to be improving for the better…until she receives a phone call stating Lee’s sentence has ended and he will be released shortly.

Suddenly, Catherine begins to see Lee everywhere she goes. Additionally, she sees her former best friend out of the corner of her eye, a friend that testified against her in Lee’s trial. She comes home to her apartment to find things moved around, Lee’s trademark behavior. But rather than succumbing to the terror she once experienced, she uses the confidence and strength she’s built up in the recent months to stand up against the man who nearly killed her.

Told in alternating time frames, shifting between past and present, Into the Darkest Corner is a terrifying look at an example of domestic violence. This is Haynes debut novel, and she holds nothing back. She doesn’t sugar coat the details of the abuse Catherine faced. A police-intelligence analyst herself, Haynes uses her knowledge to portray a truly chilling, yet completely plausible, stalking situation. The terror Catherine feels is so real it comes through in the author’s writing.  Additionally, Catherine’s OCD is treated with compassion and, in reading of her treatment, the reader in turn learns a great deal about a disorder that is often downplayed.

The shifting of past and present may be a bit confusing to some readers, although each new passage starts out with a clear indication of the date. I found the side-by-side story lines incredibly ingenious; in the past we watch the progression of the abuse while in the present we watch Catherine become a stronger woman. It is if “present” Catherine is feeding off of Catherine from the past. She quite literally goes into the darkest corner of her soul to gain the strength and confidence to battle her horrific past.

I am truly astounded that this is the author’s debut novel. The talent she portrays in her writing, to me, appears to come from an author with decades of experience.

Bottom line: Into the Darkest Corner is a debut novel that I give my highest recommendation to, a novel certain to make my list of favorites for the year.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me the opportunity to participate in this tour. Please be sure to check out the full schedule of stops in this tour.

Note: violence, graphic scenes of a sexual nature

6 Responses to “Review: Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes”

  1. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    Wow, what a review. This sounds incredibly dark and intense, but those kinds of books are my comfort food. I get pretty excited when you see this much talent in a debut!

  2. Howard Sherman
    Twitter: howardasherman

    Elizabeth Haynes makes the case for caution. I view Into the Darkest Corner as a cautionary tale. Picking up some of the points of your review, Catherine should’ve slammed the door in Lee’s face when he showed up with unexplained wounds at her front door right then and there.

    But she didn’t. And so many other women — and people at large — don’t. They should. Maybe a part of them knows they should. But they don’t. They probably can’t. That’s what I think makes this story so powerful and can reach absolutely everyone. All of us at one time or another reached out with strong feelings and (blind?) trust. And many of us carry the scars of such an encounter for the rest of our lives.

    I’ve got so many books on my plate that I’m reluctant to put it on my TBR list but I almost can’t help but make it a point to read this book and share my own feelings after reading it.

    The fact that this is a debut work is doubly astonishing. I salute Elizabeth Haynes!

  3. Jen
    Twitter: Crazybookblog

    I just started this last night and it sucked me in quickly. Loved your review. It has me excited to keep reading and dig in some more!

  4. Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours
    Twitter: age30books

    Alternating time periods in a novel can be tricky so I’m glad to see if worked for you here. I’m excited to see that Catherine didn’t allow herself to be cowed by her fears – I can’t wait to see how the book turns out!

    Thanks for being on the tour Jenn.