Book Review: Into the Darkest Corner

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Into the Darkest Corner
By Elizabeth Haynes

My Edition:
Paperback, 394 pages
2011, Harper
ISBN: 9780062239426

5/5 stars

From the back of the book: “When young, pretty Catherine Bailey meets Lee Brightman, she can’t believe her luck. Gorgeous, charismatic Lee seems almost too perfect to be true. But what begins as flattering attention and spontaneous, passionate sex transforms into raging jealousy, and Catherine soon discovers that Lee’s good looks hide a dark, violent nature. Disturbed by his controlling behavior, she tries to break it off and is stunned when her friends don’t believe her. Isolated and driven into the darkest corner of her world, a desperate Catherine plans a meticulous escape. Four years later, Lee is behind bars and Catherine – now Cathy – is trying to build a new life in a new city. The trauma of the past still haunts her. Then Stuart Richardson, her attractive new neighbor, moves in. Encouraging her to confront her fears, he sparks unexpected hope and the possibility of a normal life. Until the day the phone rings…”

This book was actually “recommended” to me by someone I follow on Instagram (livresque) – realistically, her review of this book was that it was chilling and horrific and it made her anxious and she wouldn’t want anyone to read this, yet clearly Haynes was a phenomenal writer to give her such feelings, so I just had to get my hands on this book.

What I Liked:
I have never been afraid while reading a book (sure, Stephen King books creep me out, but they don’t instill fear) until I read this…horrific masterpiece. I’d never heard of Haynes before and I honestly wasn’t expecting to be so affected by this book – despite the warnings from my Instagram friend. From page one you can tell that Brightman is a bad man, and as I read on I quickly began to realize that he was a monster. Most of this book is told from Cathy’s perspective alternating from past and present – her past in 2004/2005 as she meets Lee and starts her relationship with him, and her present life in 2007/2008 as she lives isolated and friendless, struggling with severe OCD and PTSD. Cathy is a slave to her routines, checking her flat before she leaves and when she comes home from work, making sure it’s “secure.” It’s clear that something deeply traumatic has happened to Cathy and as the book progressed and I read more snippets from her past with Brightman, I began to feel afraid of what was going to happen to her. The build up in this book was excellent – there are instances with Brightman where it’s clear he’s a bit psycho, but the whole time I knew this was leading up to a big finale of sorts – the crime that put him in jail. I took an instant liking to Cathy and genuinely began to fear for her safety.

I don’t know about you, but I generally put myself in a character’s shoes when I read – it’s not even really intentional, but when the writing is good, I feel as though the events are also happening to me. So as Brightman’s strange behavior began (moving little things around Cathy’s flat, random items going missing, stalking, physical and mental abuse) to emerge, I felt as though he was attacking me. Over the three days I read this book, I felt very anxious and afraid, like I was the one hiding from this man, rather than Cathy. I’ve never felt such strong feelings when reading a book before, and while I scared me and made me a bit paranoid, I can’t help but bow down to the power of Haynes’s writing!

Disclaimer: I really don’t read these types of books (I’ve mentioned I’m not good with genres – not sure if this is a thriller, crime drama, horror, or what) so maybe I was so affected because it was way outside my comfort zone. But this book was very graphic in nature and I was constantly unsettled while reading it. I also think part of what scares me is that this book is so realistic – what happens to Cathy could easily happen to any woman who happens to meet a psycho like Brightman. I’m fortunate enough not to have experienced anything remotely close to the events in this book, but the fact that it could have happened to me really instilled a deep sense of worry in me as I read.

What I didn’t like:
The graphic nature of this book and the deep sense of horror I felt while reading! It was a double-edged sword. I didn’t want to be paranoid – it’s just a book after all! No one was breaking into my apartment, stealing my things, stalking me, waiting in the darkness to attack me, yet I felt like someone was! The fact that this book had such power over me was scary all on its own. But this was a good kind of dislike, if that makes sense?

Like my friend on Instagram said – I wouldn’t really recommend this book to a fellow female, just due to the sensitive subject of the book. Yet, I really feel that Haynes did an amazing job writing this beast and that any book that gave me such intense feelings (no matter how negative) should be experienced by others. Who knows, maybe you won’t be as scared as I was, but if this genre (whatever it is!) sounds like something you’d enjoy, give it a shot. I don’t think I’ll be reading anything else by Haynes just yet – I’m still recovering from this!

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