All The Dangerous Things ARC Review! // complex characters??? in a thriller??? who knew!

After highly anticipating (and uh getting rejected for the ARC) Stacy Willingham’s debut thriller, A Flicker in the Dark, I forgot to read it this year*. BUT I absolutely jumped at the chance to read her sophomore novel, and guess what guys: it was actually really good.

*everyone: oh wow this is so off-brand for you what a surprise!
A dark blue pond with a ripple in it while trees/foliage dip down around it.

👶 Mother-child love

😰 Tense

♟️ Well-thought out

A huge thank you to the publisher for an arc in exchange for an honest review!

TL;DR: A mom whose child went missing a year ago teams up with a podcaster to discover the truth…only, that truth could lead her back to herself.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

All The Dangerous Things shows several small streaks of brilliance. I have read (too many) thriller books, and the best kind is when you’re shocked by the ending. However, after closer inspection, you realize that the clues were laid all along for you to figure out all the different twists. It’s just a matter of hiding them cleverly enough that you didn’t quite connect the dots until it was too late.

We follow Isabelle, who hasn’t stopped searching for her son Mason ever since he disappeared from his crib a year prior. She’s lost friends, family, even her husband in pursuit of the truth. She hasn’t slept properly for a full year, only subsisting on the bare minimum needed to survive. As a last-ditch effort, she teams up with a podcaster who begins unearthing truths about her childhood that cause Isabelle to begin to question herself. And not at the least because she’s forgotten one important detail: she’s a sleepwalker.

now this is what i call a solid thriller.

It’s not overly high-stakes the way some thrillers are (Behind Closed Doors and Survive The Night come to mind). However, it does an incredible job of sowing seeds of doubt in your mind, in stealthily ramping up the tension, until you realize that your breaths have shortened and you’re completely unsure what to believe.

As we dive into Isabelle’s fragmented childhood memories, as well as reports of what happened the night Mason went missing, we begin to suspect her. But it’s not just her who is unreliable and complex. Almost every character in this book is entwined with this story one way or another, and none of them are perfect. I believe the author comments on this in her foreword but All The Dangerous Things really comments on the pressure mothers face to be perfect. Everything they do is judged, and they’re immediately regarded as terrible humans if they do not feel endless love and joy towards their child at all times. This book does a truly excellent job at drawing aside the curtain and reminding us as a society that there is a difference between taking care of a child properly and lashing on moms for the little things, the little feelings.

That being said, this is a twisty little jewel of a book! It has a steady pace that balances great reveals with excellent foreshadowing. It takes the psychological route instead of the suspenseful one, while keeping you on the edge of your seat. I cannot recommend this book enough if you’re looking for a new thriller!

So that’s it! I’m not sure how my next thriller read will top that in terms of intricate characters and fantastic twists but hey, you never know! This comes out on January 10th so be sure to order a copy, add it to Goodreads and add it to Storygraph! Tell me: what’s a thriller with great characters?

Buying books through my affiliate link with gives me a small commission. I’d be eternally thankful if you buy from it!

If You Enjoy Adult Thrillers, Check Out These Reviews!

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