Book Review: Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

Into the Darkest Corner
Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary:   Catherine Bailey has been enjoying the single life long enough to know a catch when she sees one. Gorgeous, charismatic and spontaneous, Lee seems almost too perfect to be true. And her friends clearly agree, as each in turn falls under his spell.

But what begins as flattering attentiveness and passionate sex turns into raging jealousy, and Catherine soon learns there is a darker side to Lee. His increasingly erratic, controlling behaviour becomes frightening, but no one believes her when she shares her fears. 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—compulsively checks the locks and doors in her apartment, trusting no one. But when an attractive upstairs neighbour, Stuart, comes into her life, Cathy dares to hope that happiness and love may still be possible . . . until she receives a phone call informing her of Lee’s impending release. Soon after, Cathy thinks she catches a glimpse of the former best friend who testified against her in the trial; she begins to return home to find objects subtly rearranged in her apartment, one of Lee’s old tricks. Convinced she is back in her former lover’s sights, Cathy prepares to wrestle with the demons of her past for the last time.

I gave this 4 stars because once it really got going, it was quite good. Unfortunately, I felt it dragged a bit & I grew impatient midway through as Cathy's OCD was wearing on me. At times I honestly think scenarios were repeated in series of six just like Cathy favored. Perhaps this was done on purpose by the author or is par for the course when you go into a story knowing that something terrible happened & the main character is recovering from it, so I won't call it a failure. I must admit that I had to keep myself at it because I was intent on finding out the details of just what Lee did to Cathy that landed him in prison. I couldn't leave until that big moment & then when it's revealed, the timelines merge into one & the end in the present is fast coming.

Now to the characters & story. I liked Cathy but found her tiresome. I don't think that's bad as Cathy finds herself so. She had problems & it was very interesting to find out where the roots sprang from & took hold. I liked that it wasn't just the attack she endured that gave her reason to have these issues. I really liked Stuart & wanted more of him but as this story was in the first person POV through Cathy, there's only so much to get in, I suppose. I admit freely that the POV is not my favorite for such reasons. I did feel that the ending was super rushed with regard to Stuart. We never find out exactly what injuries he suffered in the final confrontation & then we zip forward to court where he's fine. After going day by day with Cathy's recitations of the past & present, it felt like very short shrift at the very end. More like tying up ends not a natural progression. I did like the resolutions, but felt that they were hurried along & I wanted a better pay off for having stayed through the deadly slow bits.

I thought Lee was done very well but I would have liked to know where his particular brand of crazy stemmed from. It was so specific & vicious. I was hoping for him to be deceased by the end but I have to admit that the ending given was certainly creepier. It was interesting to watch him as a character take over little by little & Cathy acquiesce & capitulate over & again until she was so far gone, she couldn't get out. Many times, I found myself wondering if she would have taken any of the signals given that he wasn't quite right (the following, the showing up inside her home unannounced, I don't care if he was making dinner, etc.) if he weren't so handsome, charming & solvent. I still don't understand why she seemed to need the validation of her friends to tell her it was okay to leave or break up. I know it stems from more than Cathy's relationship with Lee (going back possibly further than her parents deaths), but I found it quite curious. It was as though she never had much a sense of self & was just lost without the support of others to tell her her own mind. In the end though, I was very glad that little by little & then by a lot, she found herself & the strength to save herself & take back her life. Looking back, it may be my favorite thing about the book, watching that evolution.

And speaking of Cathy's friends, I didn't really feel they came across as such good friends to begin with. They were good for going out & had been since college but none of them ever seemed to be the BFF sort. I don't think they were bad "friends" to Cathy, especially as Cathy didn't strike me as so very into them either. They were young & self-centered, all of them, so I don't blame any of them for being so self-involved as to not have really been listening to what Cathy was trying (admittedly, poorly) to tell them. In the story, we're never given any indication that Cathy has any more than a surface knowledge of her friend's relationships, so if the situations were reversed, would she have been any better? I did like the way the bit with Sylvia played out & that was a good moment of growth & bonding between she & Cathy. As I can't even recall the names of the other friends, they obviously didn't make much of an impression on me, so that's all that needs to be said about them.

Overall, this was a good book. I wouldn't call it a beach or vacay read as the subject matter is a bit heavy & nothing close to fun. Still, I would read another by this author & would recommend it.

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