We Are All the Same in the Dark by Julia Heaberlin is the thriller novel you’ve been waiting for this year. No one can be trusted, emotions run high, and the story unravels slowly but wonderfully. You won’t be able to put this book down.
It’s 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 the walls of the town’s Baptist church, the police station, and in the high school. They all promise the same thing: We will find you. Meanwhile, her brother, Wyatt, lives as a pariah in the desolation of the old family house, cleared of wrongdoing by the police but tried and sentenced in the court of public opinion and in a new documentary about the crime.
When Wyatt finds a lost girl dumped in a field of dandelions, making silent wishes, he believes she is a sign. The town’s youngest cop, Odette Tucker, believes she is a catalyst that will ignite a seething town still waiting for its own missing girl to come home. But Odette can’t look away. She shares a wound that won’t close with the mute, one-eyed mystery girl. And she is haunted by her own history with the missing Tru.
Desperate to solve both cases, Odette fights to save the lost girl in the present and to dig up the shocking truth about a fateful night in the past—the night her friend disappeared, the night that inspired her to become a cop, the night that wrote them all a role in the town’s dark, violent mythology.
In this twisty psychological thriller, Julia Heaberlin paints unforgettable portraits of a woman and a girl who redefine perceptions of physical beauty and strength.
As a big fan of psychological thrillers, I was excited to dive into We Are All the Same in the Dark by Julia Heaberlin. The novel has some strong female protagonists, and a great gothic atmospheric vibe. The prose is beautiful and the novel digs deep making you feel empathetic to the characters’ journeys and the traumas that they have all experienced. Readers will also feel the looming mystery right from the start as it introduces you to one of three point of views.
Wyatt, the social pariah of a small town that feels just as creepy as the story itself, finds a young, mute, one eyed girl on the side of the road. He names her Angel because she looked like an Angel lying in a circle of dandelions. He knows the right thing to do is to help, but he knows it’s only going to cause him problems, so he ends up doing a bit of both by picking her up but not calling the cops. You realize quickly why it’s all such a bad idea that he helps this girl when you learn that Wyatt is a suspected murderer in the missing persons case involving his sister and father that happened a decade earlier.
The second point of view is Odette, a local police officer who gets the call that they saw Wyatt pick up a girl in his truck, propelling the story forward.
Odette is one of my favorite parts of this book. She was an impressive character who was not limited by her physical abilities or emotional trauma, which were constantly heavy on her heart. She tries her best to rise above it all or make the best of every situation, while also trying to prove herself along the way. She’s headstrong and you want to like her, and you want to understand her struggles even more.
When Odette reaches Wyatt’s house to find that the call was not unfounded, she becomes deeply concerned when she sees Angel on his couch. Odette can’t help but be emotionally invested into anything that involves Wyatt, and you feel it the moment you read their first interaction, which I liked, no matter the heart wrenching reasons why. Odette’s history goes even deeper than being romantically connected to Wyatt. It’s the reason she’s a cop, the reason she lost her leg, and the reason she lost her friend, Tru. It’s all part of the many layers that begin to form as the story unfolds.
Odette is instinctually protective of Angel, feeling a connection because of their dark pasts. During this time of trying to unravel the mystery that is Angel, Odette’s interest in her missing friend’s case is reignited, and she dives head first in trying to solve the cold case, leading to sinister vibes at every turn. She realizes nothing is what it seems, which ultimately leads to Odette’s own unsolved mystery. I won’t spoil it, but I definitely gasped.
The final point of view is from Angel, who is eighteen by this time and still impacted by the few days she spent with Odette all those years ago. Angel is drawn back to the small town to pay respects and solve Odette’s mystery, along with the one Odette was trying to solve. She makes some mistakes along the way, which although frustrating, made her feel relatable. The humanizing flaws of all characters involved made this book feel real.
Overall, We Are All the Same in the Dark is an immersive story of redemption while still being a creepy, sad, cryptic, and engrossing mystery that had me suspicious of everyone. Julia Heaberlin does a great job peeling back the deceit and betrayal that seems to fester in every facet of the town. I enjoyed the slow burn and how everything in the storyline weaves nicely into one another, while still keeping me on the edge of my seat and wanting to solve the mysteries as much as the female protagonists. If you love thrillers, you’ll love this novel, and you’ll be pulled in until the very end.