At a Glance
Title: Home Before Dark
Author: Riley Sager
Expected Publication: June 30, 2020 by Dutton Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Goodreads Rating: 4.14 out of 5
My Rating: ★★★★
“What was it like? Living in that house.
Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.
Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.
Alternating between Maggie’s uneasy homecoming and chapters from her father’s book, Home Before Dark is the story of a house with long-buried secrets and a woman’s quest to uncover them—even if the truth is far more terrifying than any haunting.”
Fun fact, I actually met Riley Sager last summer and was able to get him to sign my copy of Lock Every Door, which you can see my full review for that book HERE!
I’m also not ashamed to admit that I have read every single Riley Sager book that has come out so far. Of all his books though I still have to say Final Girls is still my favorite of Riley Sager’s books, closely followed by The Last Time I Lied. Home Before Dark, is ranking in at my third favorite Sager book out of four. Was it not good, you might ask yourself. That isn’t the issue here. Home Before Dark, is everything Sager books have come to be known for. A little creepy, A little mystery, some secrets, and a big ole’ twist at the end. It’s a very enjoyable book, I just did not feel as invest in the characters or the story as much as the other two books.
This book is definitely a mixture of Haunting of Hill House, and Amityville Horror. There are a lot of elements and references to Stephen King books and I also got a bit of a The Shining vibe, however this one as with most of Sager’s books is less on the horror/scary side of things and more in line with a thriller/not what you expect theme.
When Megan Holt was young, her parents bought Baneberry Hall, a big house with an even bigger history. When they flee the house in the middle of the night, not long after moving in, they claim a supernatural precense threatened their lives. The story forms a world of it’s own and soon Ewan, Megan’s father, is famous for his book about what happened at Baneberry Hall. When her father dies, Megan not only learns the house is still owned by her father, but she is also to stop letting ‘that book’ navigate the outcome of her life. She’s determined to understand what really happened at Baneberry Hall and to prove the book is nothing but fiction. Upon returning to the house though, Megan will find that not only is the book non-fiction but also will discover a secret much larger than the book ever was.
The biggest reason I didn’t like the book is that Maggie is very annoying to me. She blames her entire life on ‘the book’. I understand that she hated the reconizition and the people who only wanted to know more about the events, but at the same time you can’t blame everything on your past. It was just really hard for me to like our main character, which is the main reason I didn’t attach to this book like I did the others.
I also thought the ending was a bit to neat. Without giving anything away, let’s just say the reason Megan’s parents thought they fled the house was much more plausible to me than the actual reasoning. I would even be okay if it was actually a haunted house, I guess I didn’t like the resolution of the story and wanted a bit more supernatural.
Overall, I liked the book and it gets a solid ★★★★ from me. I would recommend it for thriller lovers and while it may not be my favorite Riley Sager book; it is a good reminder why he is quickly becoming one of my all time favorite authors. Here’s to hoping we get another new book in 2021!
This book comes out this summer, June 30th ! Pre-order your copy HERE!
I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on Home Before Dark. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof_books. Huge thank you to Dutton books and Edelwesiss for my advanced copy!
About the Author
Riley Sager is the pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer. Now a full-time author, Riley’s first thriller, FINAL GIRLS, became a national and international bestseller and was called “the first great thriller of 2017” by Stephen King.
A Native of Pennsylvania, Riley now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. When he’s not working on his next novel, he enjoys reading, cooking, and going to the movies as much as possible. His favorite film is “Rear Window” or Jaws” but probably, if he’s being honest, “Mary Poppins.”
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