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This spoiler-free book review of All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham highlights everything you need to know about this mystery thriller, including favorite quotes from All the Dangerous Things, frequently asked questions, a brief synopsis, book club discussion questions, similar books, and more!
Content warnings: Insomnia and sleep deprivation; disappearance; murder and attempted murder; mention of death by suicide; death and grief; depression; psychosis; postpartum trauma; night terrors; mention of pregnancy loss
All the Dangerous Things Book Review / Summary
- Following her instant New York Times bestseller, A Flicker in the Dark
One of my most anticipated 2023 releases, this slow-burn mystery thriller with an unreliable narrator by Stacy Willingham does not disappoint.
All the Dangerous Things is about a distressed mother named Isabelle Drake who cannot move on with her life after her toddler son, Mason, was taken from his crib in the middle of the night while she and her husband, Ben, were asleep in the next room.
With no leads or momentum after a year of this missing person’s report, Isabelle becomes obsessed with finding answers.
She’s desperate to find clues in the cold case—so desperate she continues to publicly tell her story at true-crime enthusiast conventions and finally says yes to an interview with a podcaster named Waylon.
As she shares her story with Waylon and her severe insomnia persists, she’s met with the uncomfortable truth that Mason’s disappearance isn’t the only mystery to unravel.
All the Dangerous Things is a story about motherhood, sisterhood, and toxic secrets. It’s about how our need to know more can push against our limitations—and what happens when those limits break.
This was a solid thriller with quite a few twists I wasn’t expecting. I loved the last 20 percent of the book, even though the pacing was a little slow in the beginning.
All the Dangerous Things is a now/then narrative. We follow the present-day Isabelle (“Izzy”) Drake as well as the “then” Isabelle—a young girl in the South who has a tendency to sleepwalk often, which scares her little sister, Margaret.
The audiobook was excellent (I’m a fan of Karissa Vaicker!), and the complex characters, suspense, and multiple twists really got me. I loved that the author shared so many different types of women in this book—and that a book about motherhood included the weight and expectation of motherhood that exists for every woman, whether or not she has or wants children.
My All the Dangerous Things ending complaint: It did feel a little too tidy. I found it verbose at times, and a few scenes were a little unrealistic for me (e.g., a particular scene with the psychiatrist).
But for the most part, All the Dangerous Things was riveting. And who knew the subject of sleepwalking and sleep deprivation would be so perfect for a slow-burn thriller? I was so intrigued and creeped out!
RELATED: Author Interview with NYT Best-Selling Author Riley Sager
Favorite Quotes from All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham
We are nothing but what we choose to believe, but it’s all a mirage, bending and warping and shimmering in the distance, changing its form at any given second.—Stacy Willingham, All the Dangerous Things
I understand that there’s something even more unsettling than being alone in the dark. It’s realizing that you’re not really alone at all.—Stacy Willingham, All the Dangerous Things
Aren’t all of our lives just stories we tell ourselves? Stories we try to craft so perfectly and cast out into the world? Stories that become so vivid, so real, that eventually we start to believe them, too?—Stacy Willingham, All the Dangerous Things
Frequently Asked Questions
What is All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham about?
All the Dangerous Things is much more than a crime story about a toddler’s disappearance; it’s an examination of motherhood and the expectations of women—the making of a family and the secrets that break them.
Where does All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham take place?
All the Dangerous Things takes place in Savannah, Georgia.
What genre is All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham?
This book is an adult mystery slow-burn psychological thriller.
Who is the narrator for All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham?
Isabelle (“Izzy”) Drake narrates, alternating between her present-day self and her younger self in 1999.
Book Club Discussion Questions for All the Dangerous Things
- Ice breaker question: If you found out you were sleepwalking one night, where do you think you’d most likely go?
- What did you think of Isabelle, the main character? How did your perception of her change throughout the book?
- How does the subject of sleep deprivation add to the suspense of the story?
- What do you think Stacy Willingham is saying about “mom guilt” in this book? How does Isabelle’s story reflect societal pressures of family dynamics and the role of mother?
- How do you feel about true-crime enthusiasts?
Other Books by Stacy Willingham
These titles explore similar themes or plot lines as All the Dangerous Things:
- Everything We Didn’t Say by Nicole Baart
- The Whisper Man by Alex North
- What Have We Done by Alex Finlay
- Just the Nicest Couple by Mary Kubica
- The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes
Buy the Book
If you’re sensitive to stories about the hardships of motherhood and postpartum life, I wouldn’t recommend reading All the Dangerous Things. In fact, I’m kind of surprised I liked it so much since I currently have a seven-month-old baby!
I recommend this book for readers who love a good twisty true-crime thriller. If you loved Stacy Willingham’s first book, A Flicker in the Dark, the consensus is you will love this one even more. I haven’t read her debut, but after All the Dangerous Things, I’m definitely picking it up. I hope you love it, too!
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