Home Before Dark – Book Review

Home Before Dark: 'Clever, twisty, spine-chilling' Ruth Ware by [Riley Sager]

Title:- Home Before Dark

Author:- Riley Sager

No. of pages:- 402 pages

Date published:- September 17th 2020

Publisher:- Hodder and Stoughton

Genre:- Horror/Psychological Thriller


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 a rambling Victorian estate called Baneberry Hall. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a memoir called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon.

Now, Maggie has inherited Baneberry Hall after her father’s death. She was too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist.

But when she returns to Baneberry Hall to prepare it for sale, her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the pages of her father’s book lurk in the shadows, and locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself – a place that hints of dark deeds and unexplained happenings.

As the days pass, Maggie begins to believe that what her father wrote was more fact than fiction. That, either way, someone – or something – doesn’t want her here. And that she might be in danger all over again . . .

Out of all the three books I have read of Riley Sager, in my personal opinion, this is his best book.

Twenty five years ago, Maggie Holt and her parents, Ewan and Jess moved to their “dream” house, known as Baneberry Hall, located in the small town of Vermonth. But three weeks later, the family fled the house after encounting a “dark” spirit–which prompted Ewan to publish a memoir known as “House of Horrors” which became an instant bestseller.

Now Maggie has inherited the Baneberry Hall from her father and believed that what her father had written were all lies. She moves to the Baneberry Hall and then realizes that what her father has written were facts and not fiction. Something…or someone doesn’t want her to live in the house.

From start to finish, the story was intense and gripping and I was literally hooked from the beginning. The story is mainly told from Maggie’s perspectives, with her motive to prove that her father’s ghost tale about the house was false. Then there were excerpts from her father’s book, retelling the story that happened twenty five years ago, when Maggie was five years old. As a reader, I wondered, is the house really haunted? What dark secrets are hiding inside this house? What made Maggie’s parents leave the house leaving behind all their things in the middle of the night? I kept reading this book, waiting to find the answers and finally, towards the end, I got the answer! Though I expected that ending, it was such a twist that left me really chilling….

I really like Riley Sager’s writing–while reading this book, I actually felt like I was watching a horror movie and not really reading a book–this book kind of reminded me of the horror movie, Conjuring a little bit. Though there were no jump scares moments (except the snake part), nonetheless, it was a little scary at some places to read. So kudos to the author for doing a good job of creating a horror atmosphere in the book and making the book engaging. Maggie Holt, the main protagonist is a complex character–she is an adult and doesn’t really want to believe in ghosts, with her mother urging her to stay away but at the same time, she was having a mixed feelings about her father’s book. I have to say, this is somewhat an engaging horror thriller.

Overall, if you like a version of horror movie that will make you scared, this book is one for you–worth full five stars!

Riley Sager is the New York Times bestselling author of six novels, most recently Home Before Dark and Survive the Night. His first novel, Final Girls, has been published in 30 countries and won the ITW Thriller Award for Best Hardcover Novel. His latest book, The House Across the Lake, will be published in 2022 by Dutton Books.

A native of Pennsylvania, he now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

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