Saturday, September 10, 2011

Into The Darkest Corner

Into The Darkest Corner
Author: Elizabeth Haynes
Myriad, 2011
403 pages

This has been a great year for reading books by first-time authors. Allow me to introduce you to Elizabeth Haynes from the UK. Her freshman entry Into The Darkest Corner is so clever, it doesn't seem like a first book at all. From the opening two scenes (one, an excerpt from a court hearing transcript; two, a murder), I wasn't sure at first where I was headed. But I felt compelled to keep reading . . .

Main character Cathy was once a big time party girl, with a life full of good times, alcohol, and casual relationships. But that was three years ago. Now, she's a somewhat shy and obsessive-compulsive recluse who has set patterns for doing things like checking to see that her doors are locked, having her tea at certain times of the day, and avoiding red clothing. Through the technique of describing past and present in alternating chapters, we learn what happened to Cathy, how she came to be in this condition, and why she trusts no one.

In the present-day chapters, Cathy slowly and reluctantly develops a relationship with Stuart, who moves into the apartment upstairs. Turns out Stuart's a doctor, and it doesn't take long for him to realize that Cathy has obsessive-compulsive disorder. Through him she begins to trust again, and takes steps toward getting the help she so badly needs. But when ghosts from Cathy's past come around, she just might take a giant leap backwards.

I don't feel that I can say too much more about the plot without giving too much away, so instead I'll focus on my reaction to the book. It's a true psychological thriller with lots of nail-biting, cringing moments. Even now, hours after I've finished reading, I still find myself thinking about some of the more disturbing scenes. Into The Darkest Corner is definitely an apt title.

One other thing. In the afterword section of the book, it's noted that the author wrote the first draft of Into The Darkest Corner during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November of 2008. I think that's really cool!