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  • Writer's pictureAshley Mongrain

All the Dangerous Things | Review

Rating - ⭐⭐⭐.25


"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."


 

All the Dangerous Things is a mystery thriller written by Stacy Willingham.


Having written this review almost a month after I read this, I can't say I remembered what this was about until I re-read the synopsis. This is Stacy Willingham's second book, and I did actually read her first one as an ARC. I didn't really care much for it but was willing to give her a second shot in the hopes that this book would be more cohesive. By now the book actually has quite a lot of ratings on Goodreads, and a rather long waitlist at the library too, but I found the book to only be slightly above mid-level.


Let's get into some details.


 

WRITING

 

What also didn't work for me was the way the story was written. First of all, we have a dual timeline which suffered from some continuity issues and ended up revealing information that I think should have been told later on in the story. Some of the chapters also didn't say which timeline we were following (by saying then and now), so it took a bit of reading before you realized which one it was. In this case, the story could have benefited from having the dates as a subtitle.



 

PLOT

 

In this novel, we follow Isabelle, a mother who hasn't slept in a year since the day her son was kidnapped. I always have had issues with books that set their main character up to be unreliable. It is just something that doesn't work for me, and it didn't here as well. Quite frankly I am a bit surprised I had this on my TBR in the first place when this fact was made obvious in the summary.


Isabelle, due to her trauma, demonstrates high levels of paranoia which makes sense, but what didn't is her odd lack of paranoia in certain situations. Someone as distrusting as her would not put herself into the situations she did, so I think that the way the story unfolds should have been different had the author remained consistent with her paranoia. But she didn't, so what we get is a pretty straightforward mystery story.


I ended up making my way through the story only because I had seen that some people said that the story picked up and the twists were worth it. Can confirm that they indeed were not. When I got the final reveal, without going into spoilers, I wasn't very happy because it wasn't expected. Not in the 'oh I can predict everything' kind of way, but in the way where it came out of left field. It's usually not a good thing when you can't predict the whodunnit because there were no breadcrumbs left to follow.



 

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

 

I found myself in an odd position reading this as, due to the way the character was written, I found myself not sympathizing with her which is...kind of horrible to say. If I were to remove myself from the story I could say that the story could be an interesting character study following a woman spiraling in the search for her missing son. In the context of the story though, I just wasn't all that involved in reading about Isabelle and her inconsistent paranoia.


Aside from all the negative comments I made thus far, though, this story was still fine. Sure, I wasn't a fan of Isabelle and the way the story was written, but the overall plot wasn't bad. I at least enjoyed it a bit more than her debut book.

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