Monday, June 4, 2012
Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes
When young, pretty Catherine Bailey meet Lee Brightman, she can't believe her luck. Gorgeous, charismatic, and a bit mysterious, 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 dazzling blue eyes and blond good looks hide a dark, violent nature. Disturbed by his increasingly erratic, controlling behavior, she tries to break it off. Turning to her friends for support, she's stunned to find they don't believe her. Increasingly 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. Though her body has healed, the trauma of the past still haunts her. Trusting no one, she compulsively checks every lock, every window, every door of her apartment, and varies her route home each day. Then Stuart Richardson, her attractive new neighbor, moves in. Encouraging her to confront her fears, he sparks unexpected hope and the possibility of love and a normal life.
Until the day the phone rings.
Mesmerizing, skillfully drawn, vividly cinematic, Into the Darkest Corner is an ingeniously structured and plotted tour de force of suspense that marks the arrival of a major new talent.
Writing: Soooo good!
Overall: A thrilling read!
This is one freaking good book! Seriously, it is the epitome of uputdownable. I sat down with it one evening and grabbed a cup of tea and the next thing I knew it was 2am and I was turning the last page. I just couldn't stop reading. I had to find out what would happen to Cathy. Would she be able to get a handle on her OCD and PTSD? Would she and Stuart wind up together? How would she handle seeing Lee again - would she survive another encounter with him? I had to find out!
Suffice it to say, Haynes has written an excellent debut novel. Her writing is spot on, the characters are engaging, and the story itself is gripping and intense. This is seriously one good book.
Catherine Bailey is young and carefree. She goes out with her girlfriends, has a good job and a place of her own. Everything is peachy keen, until she meets Lee. Well, at first things are great - he's sweet and loving and all of her girlfriends think he's the bee's knees. Catherine can't believe her luck. And then, Lee starts to become aggressive towards her - he starts to control her and eventually begins to hit her. No one believes Catherine - her girlfriends all think she is just trying to sabotage a good relationship. Left to deal with it all on her own, Catherine devises a plan of escape. Unfortunately, things don't go as planned. Instead of waking up in NYC, Catherine comes to in her own spare bedroom where she finds herself gagged and tied up. For days Catherine lives in a hell created by Lee where he rapes and beats her and shares with her how he killed his first true love. It is heart-wrenching reading about the abuse Catherine endured - you can't help cringe in horror and cry your eyes out at the same time. Things are not looking good for Catherine.
Flash forward to four years later and Catherine is now Cathy. She is living in London and working as an HR rep. He life is consumed with rituals that consist of checking locks, windows and doorways. Her OCD is severe - she can't rest until her checks are completed; she can't skip her scheduled tea breaks; and she can't even go out to buy tea unless it is the designated day to do so. So you can imagine how Cathy reacts when a new neighbor moves into the building. He's cute, but she worries that he will forget to lock the front door and that means that she will have to keep an eye on that even more now. However, they soon form a friendship that leads Cathy to seek out help for her OCD issues. She wants to enjoy her life and not be cooped up all day at home checking locks and windows. She wants to be able to go out for a drink with a friend. She wants to be able to pursue a relationship with Stuart and not keep having flashbacks of Lee. Of course, life throws a wrench in Cathy's plans once again. And I'm not going to tell you what happens, because you just have to read it for yourself to find out. All I will share is that I cried at the end, again.
Cripes, I was definitely an emotional mess reading this book. One minute I was sobbing, the next I was sighing in exasperation, or I was just biting my nails because I was stressed waiting to find out what was going to happen to Cathy. I felt like I was reading a movie - the descriptions were so vivid and real that I couldn't help but easily imagine the events that were unfolding before me. And what made it easy to flit back and forth in time was the fact that Haynes alternates each new chapter/section with a date at the top that shows you what year you are going to be reading about. By having present day Cathy running concurrently with past Catherine, you are able to get an accurate history of Cathy's relationship with Lee and how she became to be such a neurotic mess. Plus, I felt that going back and forth really provided us with an in depth look at what life in an abusive relationship can be like and how OCD/PTSD can truly affect every aspect of your daily life. These serious issues are tackled head on with such honesty and rawness, that you can't help but become emotionally tied to Cathy. You just want to give her a big hug and let her know what a strong woman she is - or at least I wanted to. She is definitely one character I won't be forgetting about anytime soon.
Into the Darkest Corner is a terrific book that I am going to be recommending to my family and friends. It makes for great discussion and provides plenty of food for thought. I will most definitely be reading more of Haynes works in the future. For now, I recommend you pick up a copy of Into the Darkest Corner and see for yourself what I've been talking about - just remember to have some tissues on hand (because you will cry).