“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.
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“There are so many subtle ways we women subconsciously protect ourselves throughout the day; protect ourselves from shadows, from unseen predators. From cautionary tales and urban legends. So subtle, in fact, that we hardly even realize we’re doing them.”
A Flicker in the Dark is Stacy Willingham’s debut novel. It’s a twisted psychological thriller that bounces a bit between past and present; the story of a killer of young teenage girls and the devastating consequences for all involved.
Chloe Davis is working to get her life together. When she was twelve, six teenage girls went missing in her small town in Louisiana. At the end of that summer, Chloe’s father ended up confessing to the crime and was sent to prison. Her family was utterly destroyed. Her mother struggled with the truth and ends up abandoning her family when she couldn’t deal with what had happened. Chloe and her older brother Cooper are left to try to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives by themselves.
Flash forward tweny years, Chloe is working in Baton Rouge as a psychologist. She is recently engaged and preparing for her wedding. Chloe has a life of her own, a house she has worked hard on, and a job she enjoys. She worked tirelessly to get to this point of her life: to escape from her father’s shadow and have a name of her own. Sometimes though, Chloe feels out of control and like she has no idea what is happening around her. She relates a lot to her teenage patients who are troubled and trying to figure out their own lives.
Chloe’s life starts to spiral when a local teenage girl goes missing. Soon after another young girl also disappears. Chloe has flashbacks to the summer that ruined her. When Chloe tries to bring her concerns to the police and to a journalist, she is afraid that they will write her off and tell her to stop getting involved, given her history. Chloe repeatedly sees parallels between her past and present that she isn’t quite sure are real, but if they are, the idea of another killer is horrifying to her.
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