All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham
Published: January 10th 2023 by Harper Collins
Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Genre: Adult // Thriller, Mystery
Quick Thoughts: One of those books that leaves you haunted and in awe at just how breath-taking—yet, somehow downright scary—a story can get.
About The Book:
A totally gripping thriller about a desperate mother with a troubled past.
One year ago, Isabelle Drake’s life changed forever: her toddler son, Mason, was taken out of his crib in the middle of the night while she and her husband were asleep in the next room. With little evidence and few leads for the police to chase, the case quickly went cold. However, Isabelle cannot rest until Mason is returned to her—literally.
Except for the occasional catnap or small blackout where she loses track of time, she hasn’t slept in a year.
Isabelle’s entire existence now revolves around finding him, but she knows she can’t go on this way forever. In hopes of jarring loose a new witness or buried clue, she agrees to be interviewed by a true-crime podcaster—but his interest in Isabelle’s past makes her nervous. His incessant questioning paired with her severe insomnia has brought up uncomfortable memories from her own childhood, making Isabelle start to doubt her recollection of the night of Mason’s disappearance, as well as second-guess who she can trust… including herself. But she is determined to figure out the truth no matter where it leads.
A Flicker In The Dark landed on my favourite reads of 2022 list, so it was a no-brainer that I’d end up pre-ordering Stacy’s second book. I usually read my thrillers in autumn/winter for that authentic atmospheric experience of it being moody outside, but I wanted a book I knew I’d enjoy to take on my trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon, which had to be this! Plus, the sun doesn’t really kick in here until at least June, so it didn’t feel too different.
Isabelle hasn’t slept in almost a year. Well, except for the small jolts of something like sleep—a sort of semi-conscious state—that she’s been loosely coping on, ever since her toddler son, Mason, was taken from his crib in the middle of the night and never showed up again. For a long time the police were helpful, keeping her in the know as they investigated. Even her husband of seven years was attentive at first. But just like the police started becoming annoyed with her constant want for updates and trying to solve the mystery herself, her husband Ben did, too. Sure, her marriage had been crumbling for a while before Mason was taken, but nothing like now. How Ben moved out and became disinterested with her overnight. It shouldn’t come too much as a surprise, after all, he had an ego that took up so much of their house that there wasn’t enough room for fellow writer Isabelle to have her own career to match.
Still, Isabelle won’t give up searching for Mason, with or without his help. She does frequent talks at True Crime Conventions, speaking to crowds in hopes of getting her story out there to potential witnesses. And it sort of works: on the plane back home, a stranger that hosts a podcast on True Crime takes a special interest in her case and wants to talk with her. As Isabelle loses hope with her own investigation and lack of help from anyone else, she snaps up Waylon’s offer. But everyone has their secrets, even Isabelle. She worries that her childhood sleepwalking might’ve come back around the time Mason was taken, doubting her own innocence—a doubt that’s been creeping up her spine since a harrowing incident at her haunting childhood home. But as Isabelle plots to solve her own child’s disappearance, she begins to realise that her own memory, weighing on her conscious, has betrayed her. And sometimes, we’re looking for answers in all the wrong places, when the answer has been tip-toeing into our lives for longer than we thought.
Overall, All The Dangerous Things was one of those books that leaves you haunted. Plagued by some kind of reminiscent, atmospheric sense of awe at just how breath-taking—yet, somehow downright scary—a story can get, bordering a line between sleep, wake, and our own brains. We’re left wondering is Isabelle an unreliable narrator? I thought, by the middle, I had the mystery all figured out. And even though part of that resolution was correct, it was only a slither of the actual twist: and that curveball left me reeling, truly astonished by how well-crafted, edgy, chilling and masterly this novel was. Stacy will always be a must-buy author for me, and she’s outdone herself yet again with her newest book. I cannot wait to read anything and everything she writes next. Five stars, without a doubt.
About The Author
Stacy’s debut novel, A Flicker in the Dark, was published on January 11, 2022 and went on to become an Instant New York Times bestseller. Her second, All the Dangerous Things, will be published on January 10, 2023. Prior to writing fiction full time, Stacy worked as a copywriter and brand strategist. She earned her BA in Magazine Journalism from the University of Georgia and MFA in Writing from the Savannah College of Art & Design.
She currently lives in Charleston, South Carolina, with her husband, Britt, and her Labradoodle, Mako.