Monday, January 7, 2013

TLC Book Review - Into the Darkest Corner

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes
Harper Collins, 2011

Format? oversized paperback
Source? the publisher via TLC Book Tours
**FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Into the Darkest Corner from the publisher; however, the review and opinions below are mine and offered without bias.

Title? perfect...Cathy's PTSD/OCD controls her life to the point that the darkest corner is where she retreats when the panic consumes her.
Cover? also perfect...Cathy obsessively checks the locks on her doors...for a very good reason.

Why?  The OCD theme is what interested me the most about this book...and that it's described as a psychological thriller. 

Reminded of?  "Sleeping with the Enemy"
What Now? I'm gonna hold onto this one.  It's not really a"keeper" per se, but there's a lot of psychology worth holding onto here.

Golden Lines

He stood motionless, one hand on the shovel, watching the blood flow out of her and marveling at its glorious color, a liquid jewel, and at how even at the moment of death she was still the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. (9)

So, it was Saturday again, and an odd-numbered day, and I'd run out of bread and teabags.  The teabag issue was a big one, because tea is another important rule, particularly at weekends.  I know that if I don't have cups of tea at eight, ten, four, and eight o'clock I will grow incresingly anxious, both from the failure to get things right, and probably from the lack of caffeine. (28)

I went to see him, wearing that red satin dress.  His face when he saw me was incredible.  I gave him a smile and a wink as I passed him going into the club.  Through the night, dancing with people I knew, chatting at the bar with some people I hadn't seen for a few months, then later on when Claire and Louise turned up, I kept seeing his face in the crowd, at th edge of the dance floor, watching me. (65)

Until Christmas, everything was fine. (109)

"I just wanted to say - er - thanks.  For last night.  For - you know.  Not coming in.  For turning me down.  I'm sorry, I think the wine went to my head a bit."
He looked confused.  "I didn't turn you down."
"What?" I said.  "Didn't you?"
He took a step toward me, and put one hand on my upper arm, the way he'd done that night to calm me down.  "No, I didn't. I just didn't take advantage of you."
"Isn't that the same thing?"
"No, it's not the same thing at all.  I wouldn't have turned you down." (131)

"Cathy, you don't need me to reassure you.  You are going to get your condition under control.  If I keep getting involved with your checking rituals, even by waiting for you to do them, you're not going to be as motivated to work at it." (146)
I put my hand against my mouth to stop - what?  A scream?  There was nobody left now.  Nobody at all.  It was just him, and me. (213)

"Catherine," he said, his voice low, shockingly calm.  "Don't make me do that again, okay?   Just come home on time, or let me know where you're going.  It's simple.  It's for your own safety.   There are some really dangerous people out there.  I'm the only one who's looking out for you, you know that, don't you?  So make it easy for yourself and do as you're told." (216)

I spent the next hour or so going over the house again, tears pouring down my cheeks, looking for the way he'd gotten in, and I never found it.
That night was my first panic attack, the first of many. (249)


Catherine meets Lee.  He's exciting, sexy, drop dead gorgeous...and dangerous.  By the time Catherine realizes she's in trouble, it's too late.  Lee has infiltrated her friends, and no one believes her.  She has to get away from him...but how.  If she fails, she knows he'll kill her.
Fast forward three years.
Cathy has changed her name and is in hiding, suffering from a serious case of OCD as a result of the psychological and physical trauma she experienced in her relationship with Lee.   As she takes real steps to overcome her condition, Lee is released from prison.  Is he watching her?  Or is it another hallucination?
How does she continue making progress dealing with irrational threats...if her most feared threat may actually be rational?
Hold on to your seats.

What I Liked

The time shifts...back and forth between present and past.  At first I wasn't sure if I would like it or not, but I ended up really enjoying the break in the tension...a chance to shift from just a thriller to the analysis of the thrill...if that makes any sense at all. 

LOVE that Stuart is a perfect to see not just the clinical side of Cathy's issues but the personal as well...with someone who can truly support and understand her.

It's no spoiler that the villain of this novel is Lee...and let me tell you, he is a villain of all villains...I have caught myself many times wondering why women who are battered stay with their abusers.  Lee is an extreme (I hope) example of why, but I sure get it now.  Shivers.

Cathy is a brash young woman on her own...she gets herself into a mess...a HUGE one...but then she works incredibly hard to survive and go on with her life.  At first I judged her.  She spends a lot of time partying...and partying hard.  But, later in the novel her whole puzzle comes together and I could see how she might have unconsciously made choices that weren't the best.  The psychology, trauma, death, themes are imbedded throughout and paint a rich picture of how the human mind responds to certain events in life. 

The End - I didn't see it coming...and I did sneak a peek. 

Gives you just enough information just at the right times...there are just enough twists and turns to keep your mind active and then the holes get filled in at just the right times. 

The vivid descriptions of panic attacks and Cathy's "checking" routines.  These are very obviously written by someone who knows and understands the psychology behind them.

What I Didn't Like

Lee - Dear young women everywhere, #1 Any man who seems too good to be true...probably is. #2 If a guy you just met sets off your common sense alarm, turn the other way and run like hell.

Cathy's friends - supposedly these characters were Cathy's best, lifelong friends, yet they constantly engaged in dangerous behaviors and encouraged her to join them (which she did of her own free will), but when the time came to support her, none of them followed through.  Who needs enemies with friends like this?

Overall Recommendation

If narratives that delve into mental illness, panic attacks, domestic abuse, fear...both irrational and rational, psychotic boyfriends, psychology and young adult life in London interest you at all, this is your next read. 

The Author

ELIZABETH HAYNES is a police intelligence analyst. She started writing fiction in 2006 with the annual challenge of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and the encouragement of the creative writing courses at West Dean College. She lives in a village near Maidstone, Kent, with her husband and son. - TLC Website

Other Stops on the Tour

Wednesday, January 2nd: Mockingbird Hill Cottage
Thursday, January 3rd: Booked on a Feeling
Monday, January 7th: Peppermint PhD
Tuesday, January 8th: Drey’s Library
Wednesday, January 9th: Tina’s Book Reviews
Thursday, January 10th: The Blog of Lit Wits
Thursday, January 17th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Monday, January 21st: All Grown Up?
Tuesday, January 22nd: Kristina’s Favorites
Wednesday, January 23rd: Seaside Book Corner
Thursday, January 24th: Bookworm Meets Bookworm
Monday, January 28th: Kelly’s [Former] France Blog
Tuesday, January 29th: Proud Book Nerd
Wednesday, January 30th: Literary Feline
Thursday, January 31st: It’s a Crazy, Beautiful Life
Monday, February 4th: Books in the Burbs
Tuesday, February 5th: Book Journey


  1. Sounds like a very intense read. I've been avoiding them lately....I want to sleep at night. heh

    1. LOL! This "villain" doesn't come and get strangers...only the woman he's supposed to love :p It is pretty intense though.

  2. I enjoyed this book, even though it's not my usual type of read. I agree that the time shifts work well and it definitely made me understand domestic violence a bit better. I'm lucky enough to have never suffered from it but I saw how Cathy was ensared by Lee acting lovely first of all and then gradually escalating.

    1. Sam, I also really understood why she was truly afraid to run away once she realized she was in trouble. I think we've all done stupid things when we're in low times of our was Cathy. Unfortunately for her, she got mixed up with this guy...and the consequences are deadly.

  3. This is one that I would like to read for several reasons, mainly due to the psychological details and behaviors of the main character. I loved that you gave the book full consideration in your review and that you really thought that the issues explored were done with sympathy and relevance. Excellent review today! You have me really eager to read this one now!

    1. Heather, this one REALLY gets in to the psychological details...I loved that about it too! All those details just make it that much more realistic, which makes you truly be able to feel Cathy's fear.
      Thanks :)

  4. I'm on the tour for this one as well and really enjoyed the psychological aspects of the story, particularly Cathy's battle with her PTSD/OCD and her intense desire to survive.

    1. Oh yeah! Especially during the "end" of the relationship.

  5. This sounds scary, intense, and gripping. Excellent review!

    1. It is, Susan! If you like that kind of read, you'll Love this one! :)

  6. "Gives you just enough information just at the right times...there are just enough twists and turns to keep your mind active and then the holes get filled in at just the right times." I love it when an author can get the timing just right like that!

    Thanks for being on the tour.