Hello everyone and welcome back to The Reading Room where we talk about the upcoming releases we’ve read recently and are excited to talk about.
Today, I wanted to share my thoughts on Home Before Dark by Riley Sager, especially because it looks like it will be a June Book of the Month pick.
About the BookHome Before Dark by Riley Sager
on June 30, 2020
In the latest thriller from New York Times bestseller Riley Sager, a woman returns to the house made famous by her father’s bestselling horror memoir. Is the place really haunted by evil forces, as her father claimed? Or are there more earthbound—and dangerous—secrets hidden within its walls?
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.
About the Author
Home Before Dark is the fourth thriller from Riley Sager, the pseudonym of an author who lives in Princeton, New Jersey. Riley’s first novel, Final Girls, was a national and international bestseller that has been published in more than two dozen countries and won the ITW Thriller Award for Best Hardcover Novel. Sager’s subsequent novels, The Last Time I Lied and Lock Every Door, were New York Times bestsellers.
Riley Sager’s latest novel is a supernatural thriller with horror elements. It is essentially a book within a book. While we are privy to the present day timeline of Maggie returning to Baneberry Hall to flip it and sell it after her father’s death. We also essentially read the book written by Maggie’s father called House of Horrors which details the 20 days five year old Maggie lived in Baneberry Hall with her parents Ewan and Jess.
Maggie recollects very little from her brief stay in the house so when her father died and passes the house onto her she jumps at the opportunity to return to the place whose legacy has haunted her for the last twenty five years.
Both Maggie and Ewan, as MCs, are capable and relatable. Sager also introduces a cast of side characters with intriguing motives.
As someone who loves a good haunted house story Sager’s latest was fantastic. I often judge the creepiness of a book based off of whether I recall scene from it when I have get up in the middle of the night. There were plenty of scenes that made me move just a little quicker through my house in the dark hours of early morning. While fear is subjective I think a lot of people will enjoy it.
In the haunted sense it kind of reminded me Lock Every Door (which was a homage to Rosemary’s Baby) but this was definitely a tribute to Shirley Jackson and The Haunting of Hill House (the book, but also the Netflix series). There is also two murder mysteries that are carried through the novel and in that sense I was reminded of Sager’s debut Final Girls.
The pacing was a slow build but there were little pay offs throughout the story instead of all of them being held for the end. I thought it was clever how the scenes in the parallel narratives overlapped at times. For example at around the same time in the book a record player starts playing the same song. In terms of tone, Home Before Dark definitely got dark at times and isn’t for those who don’t enjoy ghost stories.
There were also some good twists that I didn’t entirely see coming. As someone who loves ghosts stories it’s was a solid thriller and perfect for summer.
I would highly recommend it for fans of authors such as Simone St. James and Lisa Jewell. Overall I gave 5/5 stars.
TW: death of children, murder, disturbing scenes, and an extremely disturbing snake scene that I can’t stop thinking about.
What About You?
Have you read Home Before Dark? What did you think? In your opinion, how did it compare to his other novels? Let me know in the comments!