Into the Darkest Corner
by Elizabeth Haynes
Our South coast-based book group had been starved of a good book for a month or two, so it was with some excitement that we stumbled across the buzz on Twitter about Elizabeth Haynesí compelling debut novel Into the Darkest Corner. Thankfully starvation swiftly changed to gluttony when we got our hands on the book, as this is a compulsive thriller with sufficient twists and plot turns to keep the most action-avaricious of readers satisfied.
So, itís unquestionably a good read, but letís enhance this review by shining our lit-crit torches a little further into the darkest corner of the novelís plot and style. Split into two narratives, one set in 2003, the other in 2007/2008 the novel tells of Catherine, a once lively and bubbly single woman who gradually enters into an abusive relationship with the seemingly charming Lee. The dual narration is no gimmick, however, rather is used highly effectively by Haynes to contrast Cathyís life before Lee with the terrible effects of the relationship on her four years down the line: Now plagued with OCD, she trusts nobody, friends old or acquaintances new; itís for the reader to guess, and the author to tease, as to whether Cathyís mistrust is justifiedÖ
It might sound melodramatic: an abusive relationship, a woman so harassed that she is pushed to the very edge of her own sanity, but Haynes treats the subject matter of domestic violence delicately and with gentle self-assurance. And itís this theme that makes the book so suited to book group discussion, with our group having a lively debate over how we would react in the same situation. Which just goes to show that even if your book of the month gets a unanimous thumbs up, it neednít spoil your chances of having plenty to say about it.
ĎI never thought that simple words on a printed page could create such fear that Iíd be checking under the bed every night.í ĎCouldnít put it down.í ĎItís curious how a book that deals with obsession, can itself leave the reader obsessed.í These are just a selection of the comments from the other members of my book group about Elizabeth Haynesí debut. But donít just take our word for it, Haynes has been selected as one of Amazonís Rising Stars for 2011, so hers is clearly a name to watch.
Review by The Brighton Belles book group.
Published by Myriad Editions - 384pp