SUCH DARK THINGS
By Courtney Evan Tate (Courtney Cole)
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Mira (Harper Collins)
Release Date: March 20, 2018
I thought I knew him. He thought he knew me. We were both wrong…
Dr. Corinne Cabot is living the American dream. She’s a successful ER physician in Chicago who’s married to a handsome husband. Together they live in a charming house in the suburbs. But appearances can be deceiving—and what no one can see is Corinne’s dark past. Troubling gaps in her memory mean she recalls little about a haunting event in her life years ago that changed everything.
She remembers only being in the house the night two people were found murdered. Her father was there, too. Now her father is in prison; she hasn’t been in contact in years. Repressing that terrifying memory has caused Corinne moments of paranoia and panic. Sometimes she thinks she sees things that aren’t there, hears words that haven’t been spoken. Or have they? She fears she may be losing her mind, unable to determine what’s real and what’s not.
So when she senses her husband’s growing distance, she thinks she’s imagining things. She writes her suspicions off to fatigue, overwork, anything to explain what she can’t accept—that her life really isn’t what it seems.
My skin is sticky with blood.
My waistband is wet with it, and I can taste it on my lips. It’s splattered on my face, and it tastes like metal that has been rotting in the sun and rain for a hundred years. The night makes me shiver, the cool breeze rustling my hair, and for a split second, I’m back there in that house, standing in that blood. My bare toes feel the warmth of the liquid turn cool as the minutes tick past.
Goose bumps raise on my neck, and a knot that I can’t swallow is lodged in my throat. My feet are frozen frozen frozen on the ground, and I can’t move.
Their eyes are open and lifeless, although they stare at me.
They see me.
Yet they see nothing.
I can’t breathe.
My lips are ice, just like theirs.
My heart is pounding and racing and stuttering, and I can’t breathe I can’t breathe I can’t breathe.
“Corinne. You’re safe here. Corinne.”
And just like that, I’m not there.
“There was blood all over me.” My words are stilted and fragile, like glass.
I stare at my hand, and even though it’s clean now, I see it as it was seventeen years ago, covered in the blood of two souls…souls that were living and that aren’t anymore. It’s hard to wrap my mind around. First they were breathing, and then they weren’t. It happened in a split second. I inhale shakily.
“Think about that moment,” the doctor instructs. “Who can you see?”
I think on that. “Melanie is next to me on the floor. Her head is bleeding into a pool. There is so much blood that it looks black.” I close my eyes, because it had been the first time I’d seen blood like that, and it terrified me. “Joe is on the bed. His blood is splattered all over the wall. Both of them have their eyes open.”
Staring at me.
The emotions welling up in me are like a wave, swelling, swelling, swelling…until I can’t handle it anymore. The horror and the guilt and the pain are just too much.
“I can’t do this,” I blurt out. “I’m done for the day.”
Dr. Phillips looks at me, and he’s calm and detached.
“Corinne, why are you here?”
I pause. What a stupid question. “You know why I’m here.”
I hate it when they treat me with such condescension.
“Humor me,” he tells me. “Why are you here?”
I grit my teeth and look away.
“You’re saying that I tried to hurt myself. But I wouldn’t do that.”
I look at him now, and he’s so f*cking emotionless. I look down at my left wrist, at the bandage covering up the stiches.
“I wouldn’t,” I insist again. “I’m a f*cking physician. I wouldn’t have cut my wrist horizontally. If I really wanted to hurt myself, I would’ve known to cut vertically along the vein.”
I finger the gauze. Beneath it, the cut throbs, evidence of something I don’t remember doing.
“I’m not crazy,” I add. And I don’t know if I’m trying to convince Dr. Phillips, or myself.
“You’re not crazy.” He nods. “But you’ve experienced a mental break. You’re here because you need to deal with the causal underlying issue so that it won’t happen again. Right?”
He’s a fucking asshole.
I stare at the wall. At the whiteness, at the sterility.
“You need some plants in here,” I tell him, avoiding the question. “Greenery puts patients at ease. All this blankness…it’s maddening.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” he says wryly. “Corinne…”
I interrupt. “Dr. Cabot,” I tell him. “I’ve earned it.”
“Dr. Cabot,” he corrects himself. “You’re right. You’ve earned it. You worked a long time to finish medical school and your residency. You’re a top ER physician. You have a life envied by everyone around you. You’ve got to take care of yourself, so you can protect this life you’ve built.”
I close my eyes. Behind my eyelids, it’s dark and safe. It’s black and warm.
“Protect it from what?” I whisper.
“You tell me,” he answers. “You’ve got something inside of you that is triggered now, something that creates panic and a fight-or-flight response. We know what your father did so long ago. What we don’t know is why…or what damage it has caused in you, damage that seems to be affecting you now.”
“I don’t know either,” I say helplessly, my eyes opening to the white walls again. “I can’t remember. I never could. You know that.”
“I know.” Dr. Phillips nods again, and he tries to be so fucking comforting. “You have a history of dissociative behavior. You blocked out what your father did so long ago, and it stands to reason that your brain has developed that as a defense mechanism. It’s doing it again now. If we don’t get to the bottom of why your memories are being triggered now, after all of these years…you’ll never have peace. Do we agree on that?”
Reluctantly, I nod.
“So we have to start at the beginning. You have to stay here and focus.”
Anger flares in me, red and hot, and I stare him down. He doesn’t blink and neither do I.
“Focus?” I ask him, and my words are sharp and I wish they would cut him. “You think it’s as simple as sitting down and focusing? How dare you sit there and tell me what to do, when you have no idea what it’s like?”
I stand up to leave, but the psychiatrist’s next sentence holds me in my place, freezing me.
“Corinne, you promised Jude you’d try.”
My beautiful, understanding Jude.
I swallow hard. I did promise. And I have to follow through, even though the pain it causes me is immeasurable. I owe it to him. I’ll do it for him. Not for this psychiatrist, but for Jude.
My body folds back into the seat, and I finger the medical bracelet circling my right wrist. Corinne Elizabeth Cabot, Female. It’s me, condensed into one stark sentence, yet I’m a stranger to myself right now. That’s why I’m here. I don’t know myself or my thoughts. My memories are foreign, blocked, nightmarish, out of control.
“Fine.” There’s nothing else I can say.
Dr. Phillips is quietly triumphant. “Let’s begin again. Take a deep breath and close your eyes.”
I do, drawing the cool air in a rush over my teeth, expanding my lungs and holding it, before I let it slowly exhale. I do it again, then again.
“Think back to that night, Dr. Cabot. Stand in that room. Tell me where your father is.”
I envision it, I see it in my mind like it was yesterday. My father in his bloody steel-toed boots. “He’s on the porch, waiting for the police to come.”
“He left you alone in the house with two dead bodies?”
“He didn’t try to run?”
“Okay. What did you do then?” my doctor asks me calmly, unfazed by the ugliness of my story.
“I was stunned. I think I was in shock. My hand was bleeding.”
Dr. Phillips looks at my hand, because I’m stroking the scar now, an unconscious nervous tic that I often do when I’m anxious. “What happened to your hand?”
“I don’t remember.”
“Is there a lot that you don’t remember from that night?”
“Yes. You know that.”
“Yes, I do,” he acknowledges. “So you’re standing in the middle of a bloody crime scene because your father left you alone. What did you do then, Corinne?”
“I looked out the window,” I tell him. “I was frozen. I couldn’t move. My feet felt like concrete and I was afraid if I moved, my heart would explode. So I took deep breaths. I watched the trick-or-treaters walking by. I looked at the blood on my shoe. I looked at the jack-o’-lanterns that were lit on porches, and the ghosts hanging in the trees. There was a full moon. There was light on my shoulders.”
“I stared at the street sign on the corner. All Hallows Lane.”
“That’s ironic,” the doctor points out needlessly.
“How long did you stand there?” His question is quiet.
“Until they came and took me away.”
Many thanks to Courtney Evan Tate and Netgalley for the Advance Digital copy of Such Dark Things. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
Jude and Corinne seemingly have it all. But something sinister is brewing beneath the surface of their picture-perfect life. Corinne carries the baggage of something horrific from her eighteenth year that has haunted her ever since. But she doesn’t remember the details of what happened.
Coming to terms with the past and building a strong future isn’t in the cards for Jude and Corinne with the interference they face from outside forces.
Such Dark Things by Courtney Evan Tate is an exceptionally intense read. This is a book that, once I started reading, my entire world faded far into the background and I couldn’t put it down!
Ms. Tate has a flair for the dramatic and knows how to write a psychological thriller! There was no easing into the plot, it soared off the first page and never descended! I was hard-pressed to catch my breath between each page!
Tackling the subject of PTSD and Dissociative Disorder, which are often found in people who have experienced a life-altering trauma, is a vast undertaking. Ms. Tatee handled it expertly.
I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Such Dark Things by Courtney Evan Tate to find out IF their life is really what it seems!
Reviews by Room With Books gives Such Dark Things by Courtney Evan Tate five steaming hot cups of Room With Books coffee!
©March 18, 2018
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author
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