Monica’s Musings: We Are All the Same in the Dark

We Are All the Same in the Dark by Julia Heaberlin

“We are all the same in the dark. My mother said that to me when she kissed me good night. She meant that in the dark, all that’s left is our souls.” – Julia Heaberlin, We Are All the Same in the Dark


It has been a decade since Trumanell Branson disappeared, leaving only a bloody handprint behind. Her pretty face still hangs like a watchful queen on the posters on all of the walls in town. They all promise the same thing: We will find you. Meanwhile, her brother, Wyatt, lives in the desolation of the old family house. Although he was found not guilty by the police, he is seen as a killer by the public.

When Wyatt finds a lost girl dumped in a field of dandelions, he believes she is a sign. The youngest cop in town, Odette Tucker, believes this girl will be the flame that will ignite a seething town. Desperate to solve both cases, Odette fights to save the lost girl in the present and digs up the shocking truth about the night her friend disappeared, the night that inspired her to become a cop and the night that wrote them all a role in the town’s dark, violent history.

My Thoughts:

This is a slow-burn kind of dark mystery, which is creepy in places. It is the kind where you hold your breath in fear because the atmosphere is so intense you could cut it with a knife. It portrays ghostly images and biblical references. The characters are flawed and are far from perfect. With traumatic backgrounds and disabilities, all the characters are well depicted and feel realistic. 

The book is full of powerful imagery, and is beautiful in places. The end is unpredictable and not what I expected, which I really like. My only negative is that sometimes the pace drops off. Thankfully, the tempo builds again, and we race towards the conclusion, which ponders on the title and poses further questions about the perpetrators.

Monica’s Musings: When the Stars Go Dark

When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain

“What is all the suffering for if not so we can see how alike we are, and not alone? Where will the mercy come from, if not from us?”

― Paula McLain, When the Stars Go Dark


Anna, a missing person detective, flees to Mendocino, CA to grieve after tragedy strikes in her personal life. She lived there as a child and felt like it might be the only place left for her. When she arrives, she sees that a teenage girl in the area has gone missing. It reminds Anna of an unsolved murder from her childhood that changed the Mendocino community forever.

She realizes that she was led to this moment. Her expertise has given her insight into how to solve this case. Anna becomes obsessed with the missing girl and goes on a journey of self-reflection. Weaving together actual missing person cases and trauma theory, McLain tells a story of fate, redemption, and what it takes when the worst happens to reclaim our lives.

My thoughts:

While I enjoyed this book, it was terribly sad. Anna has seen more than anyone ever should have to. Her own childhood was traumatic, and her personal growth was painful. She never felt as though she belonged, and when her own family experienced tragedy, she blamed herself and ran. The case of the teenage girl in Mendocino was a distraction for her while she grieved. All of the characters introduced in this story had tremendous baggage. This common factor is what brought them together.

Despite the sadness, the emotions portrayed by each character made it feel relatable. It is a great book to tug at your heart and make you feel exactly what they might be going through. I would recommend reading the author’s note at the end of the book. It gives reasoning for all of the details McLain incorporated into the story.