NEW RELEASE!! Such Dark Things by Courtney Evan Tate ~ Sarah A’s Review

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.

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Two stars as a psychological thriller
Four stars as a romantic thriller

Such Dark Things is touted as a psychological thriller, and it is.  Kind of.  While the genre isn’t what I primarily read in, I do read a fair few psychological thrillers, and this book just didn’t quite fit in with them.  There was a little too much concentration on the interpersonal relationships for it to be completely out of the realm of romance, which is fine for me, but if you’re looking for a true thriller, Such Dark Things just doesn’t quite meet the mark.

Such Dark Things is a standalone romantic thriller, in my opinion.  There are plenty of psychological elements to it, but they tend to take on more of a supporting role to the other themes in the book.  It is written in dual first-person perspective, with dueling timelines, narrated by Jude and Corinne.

The plot of this book had amazing potential.  It had more secrets than I could imagine, more violence and fear than I would want to deal with in real life.  Corinne’s cracks were so large you could feel all the soft gooey parts of her desperately trying to escape from her from the beginning of the book.  In those first few chapters I had great hope for this book and, while it didn’t meet the expectations I had for it, I still quite enjoyed it; just for different reasons.  Instead of appreciating how Ms. Tate got into my head and made me question every single thing I read, I loved watching how Corinne and Jude and their relationship deteriorated throughout the novel.

I had so looked forward to really getting into Corinne’s head and feeling the kind of crazy she was feeling.  It’s that desperation I enjoy most about psychological thrillers, and I just didn’t quite get it in Such Dark Things.  I would have loved the focus to be more Corinne’s devolution into supposed madness; I think it would have gone miles to sell this book as something beyond romance.

I’m of two minds when it comes to this book.  It was an intriguing romance about fighting the pitfalls of neglecting your relationship and avoiding the traumas of your past.  It excellently highlighted how easy it is for an outside entity to manipulate the dynamics of a marriage when that marriage isn’t well tended.  And for all of that, I absolutely loved the book.  However, it missed the mark for me as a psychological thriller.  I just really would have loved to have seen more of Corinne’s descent without the added insight from Jude, as I think it made her point of view feel more sane since he also felt things weren’t completely normal all the time.

I wish this book had been a little more psychological and a little less about the interpersonal relationships.  I think in highlighting how the people related to each other there were too many clues as to the ultimate reveal of the book and I had figured out what was going on by about a third of the way through the book.  Had there been a little less focus on just one of the relationships in the book would have completely changed the tone of the novel and likely have prevented me from putting the pieces together as to what was really at play under the surface.

Courtney Evan Tate is a pen name for an author who originated in the world of romance.  Those roots were evident in this novel.  Between the detailed sex scenes and the focus on how the characters related to one another, the romance devices came through.  The idea of this book was quite fascinating, and I do believe, with some focus and study of the world of psychological thrillers, Ms. Tate could have success in this genre, I’m just not sure if this book will resonate well with people who don’t read in both romance and thriller genres.

I count the ceiling tiles in the night.

The light from the moon illuminates the dark just enough to see them.

From down the hall, I hear screaming, but that’s normal here. I’m under no illusions about what this place is.

I hear the nurses’ shoes as they scurry toward the noise, and I look again at the ceiling. There are over five-hundred tiles. I’m not sure of the exact number because every time I count, I get distracted.

I’m so lonely, and I know for a fact that I shouldn’t be in this room. I’m a physician. I should be medicating whomever is screaming.

But I’m not a doctor in this building. I have no credentials here. I’m a patient, like everyone else. It’s a difficult pill to swallow. It’s a fact that lodges in my throat and won’t go down.

With a sigh, I roll to my side, and stare at the wall. It’s white and stark, and the sheets beneath me are cold and thin. My bedding at home is luxurious and thick, spun Egyptian cotton, one-thousand thread count. It’s funny how accustomed I’ve gotten to nice things over the past few years.

During my childhood and med school, I didn’t have anything. Now, I pretty much have everything. And in this place, it’s a stark reminder of the differences between home and here.

The biggest difference of all is that I’m here, and Jude is not.

It’s hard to sleep without my husband. In all the years that we’ve been married, we’ve never been apart. We always sleep curled up together, our limbs intertwined. No matter how little we’re able to see each other during the day, we always wear each other like a second skin in the night.

I wonder if he’s struggling with this as much as I am?

I’ll ask him on Saturday.

God, I don’t get to see him until Saturday?

What day is it now?

With a start, amid my rambling thoughts, I realize I don’t know.

I don’t know what fucking day is it.

How long have I been in here?

One day?

Two days?

Three?

Four?

The walls close in on me, getting tighter and tighter, until I squeeze my eyes shut so that I don’t have to see them. The only way to survive this is to just plow right through it. I’ll do what they want me to do, and I’ll breathe, and I’ll talk to them, and I’ll remember, and I’ll get better.

I count, whispering, the monotony lulling me into sleep.

One one thousand.

Two one thousand.

Three one thousand.

The last number I remember is one hundred before I drift into the abyss of sleep.

“Cunt.”

The hissing whisper wakes me, and my eyes open wide, and I don’t know how long I’ve been sleeping. Minutes? Hours?

At first, I think I’m dreaming, but then I see the outline of a girl…a woman…in the chair next to my bed.

It’s dark so I can’t see her face, but her nail polish glints in the moonlight. It’s chipped around the edges. She chews her nails, and she seems so so familiar.

“Who are you?” I ask, a pit forming in the base of my stomach.

“Your worst nightmare.”

I sit straight up in bed, trying like hell to adjust my eyes to the dark, and in that one split second, she’s gone.

I scramble out of bed, turn on the lights, and the nurses find me moments later crawling on my hands and knees, searching beneath my bed.

“What are you looking for?” they ask curiously as they help me up.

“There was a girl in here…” I tell them, and they look at each other strangely because we’re definitely alone now.

“What did she look like?” one asks me as I crawl back into bed.

“I couldn’t see her,” I have to admit. “It was too dark. And her face…it seemed blurry.”

“Maybe you were dreaming,” one suggests.

“I wasn’t,” I insist. “I wasn’t alone.”

But they don’t listen. They turn off my light, and maybe I really am crazy.

I’m on edge for the rest of the night, watching and waiting for someone to appear, but they never do. My muscles are tight and coiled, ready to lunge out of bed again.

But I don’t need to.

She doesn’t come back.

I’ve got to relax. I’ve got to breathe.

I count my breaths until I finally fall asleep again.

The last breath I remember is number five hundred and four.

Courtney Cole is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist who would eat mythology for breakfast if she could.

She has a degree in Business, but has since discovered that corporate America is not nearly as fun to live in as fictional worlds.

Courtney was born and raised in rural Kansas, but has since migrated south. She now lives in Florida and writes beneath palm trees.

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