“Because that’s the thing with the audience, the thing I learned long ago. They don’t want to get *too* uncomfortable. They don’t want to actually live through what I’ve lived through, every ugly moment. They just want a taste.”
― Stacy Willingham, All the Dangerous Things
All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham is a devastating read. Important note & trigger warning: this title talks about postpartum psychosis and postpartum depression. Keep that in mind as you decide if you want to read this title.
Isabelle Drake’s life changed forever one year ago. Her toddler son, Mason, was stolen out of his crib in the middle of the night. She and her husband Ben were asleep right next door while a monster took their young son and spirited him away. The police found little evidence and even fewer leads, which meant the case stalled quickly. Before Mason’s disappearance, Isabelle used to sleep soundly, maybe too soundly. But now, she suffers from insomnia. She instead sleeps through blackouts and/or tiny catnaps. Isabelle has lost track of so much time because of those blackouts, hours of which she has no memory.
To fill the time, Isabelle spends every moment searching for Mason. She has investigated all of her neighbors, covering the walls of her dining room with her research. In addition to her endless research, Isabelle travels to true crime conventions around the world, determined to get her story out and keep Mason’s disappearance forefront in the public’s mind. Wanting to try a new avenue, Isabelle decides to be interviewed by a true-crime podcaster, but it quickly becomes apparent that his interest is in more than Mason’s case. He is poking around in Isabelle’s past. His constant questions combined with her insomnia put Isabelle on edge, digging up memories she’d much rather stay buried. She is forced to reconsider who she can trust as she heads down a path to a truth she may wish she never found.
This book is also available in the following format:
Have you ever wondered what happens to the children who are the product of an abducted woman and her captor? After the news dies down, it’s expected that the abducted person and their children get on with life. But can they really? What happens to them? I’ve always been fascinated by the aftereffects. The latest book I read deals with this issue.
The Marsh King’s Daughter tells the story of Helena Pelletier. Helena finally has the life she always wanted: a loving husband, two adorable daughters, and a business that she manages herself. Everything is going perfect until Helena’s past comes crashing back into her life. Seems like she should be able to handle whatever comes, right? Well, Helena has a massive secret that not even her husband knows about. Her mother was kidnapped at the age of 14 by Jacob Holbrook. Jacob whisked her off to a cabin where she gave birth two years later in said cabin in the marshlands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Kept captive with no possible way to escape, her mother fought to stay alive. Growing up, Helena never knew the real truth about her father or her mother. She grew up knowing her father was violent, but Helena loved him. He taught her how to survive in the wilderness: how to hunt, track, and live. His gruffness seemed to be a given. His violence? Not so much, but Helena learned to live with it. For the most part…
At the age of 12, Helena and her mother escaped, propelled into action by a series of events that thrust her father’s behavior into a new light. Their rescue made headlines, but Helena has taken great pains to make sure her past stays firmly in the past. She thought she was safe considering her father is in prison until she heard an emergency news bulletin saying that he had escaped. Jacob had found his way back into the Michigan wilderness. Deep down, Helena knows that the authorities have no hope of catching her father. She is the only one who can find him. After all, she knows his tricks. He taught her how to track and to hunt. Helena takes off into the wilderness knowing that she is the only person capable of successfully tracking her father.
I enjoyed this book, especially the parts where the reader learns about Helena’s past. Readers get to see Helena’s life unfold from birth to present. This book is also filled with sections of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale of the same title. The setting in this book is very well-developed and the pace moves quickly, so be sure to pay attention if you’re listening. I had to back up a few times when my mind wandered. This book was eloquently crafted and I finished it wanting more. Give it a read!
This book is also available as a CD audiobook.
In Still Missing, the debut novel by Chevy Stevens, Realtor Annie O’Sullivan had only a few things on her mind the afternoon she finished her latest open house. She was late to meet her boyfriend, she was still reeling from a fight with her mother and she really wanted to sell a house. Annie was thrilled when a last minute, prospective buyer pulls up asking to see the house and introduced himself as David.
Hope for a house buyer turns to horror when, after climbing the home’s stairs, David forces a knife in Annie’s back. He coerces her into his van and into a nightmare of epic proportions. Before driving away from the house he drugs her and then takes her to a remote wilderness cabin intending on holding her captive for the rest of her life. Annie’s kidnapper, who she refers to as “The Freak” has a twisted scheme to make her the perfect submissive wife – or else. Eventually, Annie reaches her breaking point with her captor and the outcome is deadly.
Told in alternating chapters between past and present, Still Missing is a suspenseful journey that holds unbelievable twists and turns culminating at its shocking end. Chevy Stevens is definitely an author to watch – her second novel will be released this July.