Portal to the Pages

A quick glimpse into my thoughts on various fiction

Into the Darkest Corner – Elizabeth Haynes

on July 14, 2013
Book cover of

Into the Darkest Corner

Into the Darkest Corner is a dark, intricate, psychological thriller that will give you more than just pause for thought. It deals with a number of weighty topics such as domestic violence, mental illness, and the concept of justice. For that reason it’s probably not a lightweight holiday read, but a fantastic read nonetheless.The story is told from the point of view of Cathy, a young woman living in England, however it is told across two different timeframes.  Each chapter alternates between 2003 and 2007. The Cathy that is portrayed in 2003 is young, free, single, and just a bit reckless. The 2007 Cathy is almost completely a different person; she suffers from severe OCD, doesn’t have any friends, rarely leaves her house, and suffers from anxiety and panic attacks. It becomes evident very early on that the way Cathy is in 2007 is due to her relationship with a man named Lee, who she starts seeing in the 2003 chapters. I won’t say any more about how the story develops as that is one of the beauties of Into the Darkest Corner; the way in which 2003 and 2007 unfold and interlink.

I found reading this book quite a chilling experience, as the way in which Lee affects Cathy life seems innocuous at first and then unstoppable by the time it turns sinister. It was quite difficult reading just how easy he found Cathy’s life to manipulate. I couldn’t help but think whether I would have reacted any differently to Cathy if I found myself in a similar situation. I would love to stand proud and state that I would definitely have removed myself from that situation before it went too far, but, in my heart of hearts, I don’t know if I could have done.

One area that I felt Into the Darkest Corner dealt with very well is the concept that it is partially the victim’s fault when they remain in an abusive relationship. It explores how escape (both physical and psychological) can be borderline impossible in some situations and how the concept of being completely betrayed and deluded by the one supposed to love and protect you can get in the way of logical thought. Feminist readers can relax; there is no victim blaming here, just an honest and open exploration of the thoughts and experiences that one can face in domestic abuse situations.

There is not much page time directly devoted to the justice system in Into the Darkest Corner, however its reach extends throughout both the 2003 and 2007 chapters. The concept of the justice system failing those it is supposed to protect is portrayed very realistically, in my opinion. The attitudes different characters have towards it, and authorities in general, are also an important aspect of the story.

I would urge everyone to read this book as it is a fantastic read, even if it can be a bit disturbing at times. However, the most disturbing parts are those that I know could occur all too easily in real life. My final thought on Into the Darkest Corner is actually a piece of advice for anyone reading this post; if a friend tries to tell you that something’s not right with their relationship, please listen and take them seriously as it might be more than just a lover’s tiff.

Sinead

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