BGHS Book Club: Recent Reads and Reviews (February)

Christine Yuan:

Title: All the Dangerous Things

Author: Stacy Willingham

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Psychological Thriller

Page Count: 411

All the Dangerous Things was my first read of 2023, and honestly, I think I hit the ground running. 

Not only was this one of the most atmospheric books I’ve read in a while—evoking a delightfully dark mix of Where the Crawdads Sing’s brash yet stagnant Southern setting and a Gothic vibe reminiscent of Jane Eyre—it was also one of the most haunting. 

But for all the ways it subverts genre norms, All the Dangerous Things begins in typical contemporary-thriller fashion. 

Isabelle Drake, a distraught mother whose toddler son went missing from his bedroom a year ago, has been feverishly trying to solve his disappearance ever since. But her desperation has come with an unexpected and exacting price: sleep. And perhaps more alarming yet, she’s regressed to her haunting childhood habit of sleepwalking. Flashing between Isabelle’s strange past and increasingly sinister present, author Stacy Willingham establishes an effectively mind-bending timeline with surprising momentum.

Most thrillers I’ve read that utilize dual timelines (The Kind Worth Killing, The Wife Between Us, etc.) do so in a rather unwieldy way; inevitably, one plot is easier to follow, one storyline more immersive than the other. But the parallels Willingham drew between the past and the present—particularly the transitions she weaves through setting—helped fleshed out Isabelle’s story quite seamlessly. Which brings me to my next point: Isabelle Drake. 

Simultaneously cagey, unreliable, yet entirely sympathetic, Isabelle was one of the strongest points in All the Dangerous Things. Oftentimes, characters in thrillers can feel more like passive vehicles for the central mystery; they ferret out the truth only once the crumbs have already been neatly laid for the reader, they have strained relationships with those around them that are rarely explained, and perhaps most irritating of all, they are given no clearly defined character arc.

This was certainly not the case with Isabelle—she was incredibly well-realized. I felt for her the entire way through, and even during the rare points when the plot did lag, my attachment to her as a character kept me reading. And although her arc was one of the most predictable elements of this book, I didn’t mind. 

Overall, I think All the Dangerous Things is more than deserving of a five-star rating. In a genre increasingly saturated with the same few tropes, ATDT distinguishes itself through sharp execution, well-developed characters, and a mystery as atmospheric as it is unguessable. 

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. 

In the meantime, my next thriller awaits!


Ani Skiles:

Title: Station Eleven

Author: Emily St. John Mandel

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Speculative Fiction


Would you risk everything for art? That is exactly what Kirsten Raymonde is doing, traveling with an

acting troupe and orchestra twenty years after the collapse of society. The chapters flow between time,

from Kirsten’s traveling symphony to the early days of the pandemic, weaving together a beautiful and

thoughtful novel that will change your perspective on life.

This is by far my favorite book. I will never stop recommending it to anyone and everyone. The

characters are beautifully developed, the plot is more thoughtful than you would think a post-apocalyptic

novel would be, and the author’s writing blends it all together in the most perfect way.

“First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be


Rating: 5 Stars