It has been a year since Isabelle’s son was taken in the night and a year since she has had a full night’s sleep. Despite second-guessing if she had something to do with his disappearance, Isabelle will not sleep until he is found.
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.
If you have followed my reviews for a year or so, you will know that I was not a fan of A Flicker in the Dark. While I thought the writing was good for a debut, the story was greatly lacking and filled with cliches. I debated whether to give Stacy Willingham another shot and eventually caved and bought her sophomore novel through Book of the Month. I was excepting to detest it, similar to A Flicker in the Dark but ended up pleasantly surprised.
All the Dangerous Things is a story about a kidnapped child and his mother’s desperate search to figure out his disappearance. This book is billed as a domestic thriller with a potentially unreliable narrator.
Part of the reason I questioned reading this was it sounded so much like Willingham’s debut. Plus, I am so tired of mental illness being used to make women unreliable narrators. I was shocked to find that in this novel it actually worked for the most part and did not feel like a giant slap in the face to anyone with mental health issues. Instead, Isabelle’s insomnia felt like a reasonable trauma response that made her question herself.
All the Dangerous Things included quite a few twists that were unexpected. I only found one or two of the twists super obvious, but not in a way that made reading the story a worthless endeavor. Willingham managed to pack a lot of plot in multiple timelines. She utilized flashbacks in a way that added to the story while keeping it easy to follow. Most of all, I found the ending to be a satisfying close to the story.
The one place where I felt All the Dangerous Things was a bit lack was character development. The secondary characters were all flat silhouettes. Even with the story’s focus on Isabelle, I did not feel like I understood her as a person outside of her role as a mother. And we all know even mothers are people beyond that role.
I enjoyed Willingham’s writing style, as I did with her debut. I find it to be just the right amount of description without crossing into flowery language or too much fluff. If you are super picky, she does like utilizing similes. It is not the most thrilling writing, but I was not bored nor did I need to force myself to keep reading.
Overall, I surprisingly enjoyed All the Dangerous Things and have decided try Stacy Willingham’s future novels on a book-by-book basis. If you liked A Flicker in the Dark, you will surely love this one. If detested it for its plot, you may find this a much better story.
All the Dangerous Things
January 10, 2023