All I Want – Darcey Bell

Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Pages: 272
Release Date: January 11, 2022

The New York Times bestselling author of A Simple Favorbrings her “sly, satirical, subversive” (L.S. Hilton, author of Ultima) prose to a pitch-perfect psychological suspense novel about a young couple whose disintegrating marriage and remote new home in rural, upstate New York make for a terrifying descent into the darker side of human nature.


When Emma’s husband, Ben, falls in love with a large Victorian mansion for sale in upstate New York, he swears to her the fixer-upper will be worth the risk. With a baby on the way, Emma would like to live in a charming, safe community, after all—and in a space larger than a one-bedroom New York City apartment. On impulse, she agrees to Ben’s plan and they put in an offer on the house.


Sure, the mansion has a somewhat creepy backstory and is a bit dilapidated, but Emma and Ben are in this together, aren’t they? When strange things start happening, Emma begins to experience a little buyer’s remorse. What’s the real history of this house? Is its dark history repeating itself? Why does her husband suddenly seem so distant? Is she in danger? Is her baby?

Combining the domestic anxiety of Liane Moriarty and the haunting twists and turns of Shirley Jackson, All I Want is an intensely absorbing novel that will change the way you look at your neighbors.

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All I Want was so good until the final chapter

All I Want follows Emma and Ben as they fall in love with a fixer-upper Victorian mansion in upstate New York. The novel follows primarily a pregnant Emma as she takes on the bulk of the work renovating the house as Ben stays in the city to work. 

The house has a shady past so it’s no surprise when Emma starts to experience weird and unexplainable things. Bell excelled at creating a spooky and unsettling atmosphere for the entirety of the novel. Coupled with Emma’s characterization, All I Want had me questioning not only what was happening to Emma but Emma herself. 

Novels like these are all about perspective. Like I mentioned previously, All I Want is told primarily from Emma’s perspective. Emma is strong and intelligent despite how she sometimes describes herself. Her narration pulled me into the story immediately as she’s a character easily identified with.

I did not see the twist coming and it was delightful. I love every second of the lengthy explanation and change of perspective. It’s one of those novels I’d like to reread to see the real story happening. Unfortunately, I will NOT be rereading All I Want. 

Despite my very positive review, I rated All I Want three stars. I rated it this way because of the final chapter. Those final few pages of the book undermined the entire story. Those final few pages are what brought my four star rating down to three. Honestly, the final chapter ruined the book. However, I didn’t want to rate it less than three stars since the story leading up to that point was executed well and I enjoyed it. 

Overall, All I Want is an atmospheric novel with gaslighting as a central theme. Though the final chapter ruins the book, I am choosing to ignore it entirely and focus on the skillfully written mystery before that final chapter.

*** I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Will you be reading All I Want?

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