Skip to main content

All I Want


All I Want

From the author of A SIMPLE FAVOR comes a haunted house story. But is the house truly haunted, or does its history play tricks on new owners Ben and Emma?

The couple lives in a one-bedroom apartment in New York City. With Emma pregnant, the apartment has begun to feel like it’s closing in on her. So when Ben comes across an ad for an 11,000-square-foot mansion upstate, he absolutely has to see it. It sounds like a dream come true. The price is low --- because of the vast renovations required to make it grand again --- but the house has a theater inside. An actual theater! That couldn’t be more perfect for Ben, who’s a producer. Emma wants desperately to please her husband, and if she’s honest with herself, the idea of owning this gigantic manor kind of excites her.

"[U]ltimately [readers] will not even come close to what really is going on here. This is psychological suspense at its best."

Sure, Hideaway Home, as it’s called, needs a ton of work, but it has the potential to be magnificent. The realtor is open with them about its past as a dry-out clinic for the rich and famous, and hints at rumors of more sinister secrets. And the previous owners? Three mysterious hermits who never left the house and let it crumble around them. It’s fuzzy how many people may have died there. While Hideaway Home has a creepy undertone, none of that matters to Ben and Emma. They want it.

A local man named JD takes on the renovations. He carves out a livable space inside for Emma, and she settles into a comfortable routine, welcoming him and his crew each morning and waving goodbye as they leave each evening. She does have a few trepidations about staying in the cavernous home alone, but Ben has rehearsals to attend in the city and work on his new play that he cannot miss. He promises to keep his phone on in case Emma needs him. Unfortunately, every time she calls, it goes directly to voicemail.

While JD is busy working miracles on the restoration, Emma spends her time exploring. In the attic, she discovers boxes of old papers, clothing, letters and an intriguing journal. She can’t resist reading it. But as she does, a sense of dread fills her. The writer tells a horrifying story. What awful things happened to this “inmate” of Hideaway Home? She sounds desperate, lost, afraid, like a castoff or a prisoner. Did the doctor and staff here abuse their patients? And there are other strange things, like a girl with a baby standing outside the house. Are they real? No one else saw them. Is Emma losing her mind? Plus, she keeps noticing parallels with the journal and odd happenings at the mansion.

Emma is relieved at the end of each week when Ben comes upstate to join her. His presence helps to calm her nerves. At first, at least. Subtly, though, his demeanor begins to change. He becomes more distant and less concerned about her. He seems less loving, like maybe he wishes she wasn’t there. Or is she imagining it? She’s pregnant, after all, and unusually emotional. 

ALL I WANT starts with the happy couple buying the home of their dreams, and then finding out that they’re living a nightmare. Is Ben messing with Emma’s head, or are weird things really occurring at Hideaway Home? Readers will go back and forth on the answer to that question. And ultimately they will not even come close to what really is going on here. This is psychological suspense at its best.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 14, 2022

All I Want
by Darcey Bell