This book is a certainly different from the usual that I’ve reviewed; For my own pleasure (and why not?) I like to talk about books that have really hit a nerve within me for one reason or another – a book that has touched my soul, and in general I find it hard to come across a thriller or crime novel that provides more than a short-lived rollercoaster. They’re enjoyable, and maybe I won’t guess the twists and luckily be left with that ‘NO WAY’ moment, going back and putting together the clues I may have missed. They may be put together well and I like the main character, but does the book give me goosepimples or a flutter in my stomach? No. And quite basically, I know if I read it again I won’t get the same feeling even if I did.
So when I picked up Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes, I wasn’t expecting a novel that would take me to new places. In fact, I had it on my bookshelf for about 6 months until I finally felt like giving it a go. Now, I’m genuinely mortified that I almost donated it to charity without reading it.
This is, hands down, the first psychological thriller that I’ve read that has genuinely made me feel nauseous with nerves as I turned the pages. I really don’t want to spoil details of the plot, so here’s a quick overview:
Set in first person, Haynes’ novel flits between the past and present alternatively chapter by chapter. In the present day we are introduced to Catherine, a woman in her late twenties who suffers from severe OCD. It can take a while, as a reader, to understand where this plotline is going as we follow Catherine’s struggle to control her OCD during her day to day life. But as we jump a few years back into the following chapter, it’s even more intriguing to see this same woman as a carefree and vivacious party animal and socialite…so what happened?
The story unfolds, slow and patient at first, setting the scene for the handsome and elusive Lee to enter and ever so subtly, start to tip Catherine’s world upside down. This is a story of manipulation and control, of a very dangerous form of domestic abuse. What makes it so perfect is exactly how real it is. Haynes – who, incidentally also works as police intelligence analyst – can make anyone who has ever thought: “Why doesn’t she just leave him after what he’s done to her?” fully understand why this may be, and for that I have the utmost respect for this novel.
I wanted to write this review to highlight two main aspects for would-be readers. The first is Elizabeth Haynes’ artistic talent of laying out from the very beginning a journey of abuse that we can fully understand and follow, without relying on horrific images that can scar your memories. So often, it feels that there can be jumps in a plotline as this, yet Haynes works methodically to show how a person can disintegrate away from her close-knit friends and fold within herself due to a manipulative partner.
Secondly, Haynes has done such a realistic job at getting you into the mind of Catherine, not only do I feel I have a developed a real understanding of what it’s like to have OCD, but I feel that I’ve experienced it myself. With mental illness being more common than some people like to admit, I think this understanding can only be a bonus.
It’s about this point that I should mention the book is far from all doom and gloom – one thing I fail to stand myself is a book that exists just to make a person miserable, even if it is ‘educational’ etc… That’s just my personal taste. There’s enough in the world to make a person unhappy without swallowing it down by the mouthful to pass the time! But Catherine and I, we had a good relationship. Throughout the pages of fear and paranoia as I sat, cowering slightly in her brain, I felt we really bonded. I wanted her to rise up again, and felt like I was holding her hand, like a ghost she couldn’t see, when she needed it. Throughout the frustration I shared her hope. In a way, I felt myself becoming Catherine the more engrossed I became – if that isn’t good writing I don’t know what is.
Whether you’re looking for suspense or want to understand more about the human psyche, this book will give you an insight into its delicacy whilst keeping you hooked. Into the Darkest Corner is more than just another thriller, and for that I’m truly grateful.