Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
First Publication Date: 30th June 2020
I received an advance copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: 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.
Home Before Dark is a thriller with two stories happening at the same time: the story in Ewan’s book The House of Horrors and twenty-five years later, with Maggie going back to the house to prepare it for selling. I had a mixed experience with this book, it started off a bit weakly for my taste and ended a bit weakly too, but I found the middle to be really engaging and I had such a great time reading it! It’s a very fun, creepy book that keeps you guessing at what in the book was real and what wasn’t, who’s telling the truth and why did Maggie’s parents lie all those years. It is no Lock Every Door – I found Riley Sager’s previous thriller to be far superior in terms of mystery, resolution and message.
I really enjoyed the two stories mirroring each other, as Maggie accidentally or purposefully followed her father’s steps in her search for the truth. The author did a really great job with that, even if the book is far from perfect. I would have liked a stronger ending, perhaps even an open ending. Considering this is Riley Sager, you know what you’re getting into and I think the ending is rather easy to guess, so I hoped for an even bigger twist by making this book a different experience than reading The Final Girls or Lock Every Door was. I decided to rate this highly because of how much fun it was to read! My expectations had been somewhat dampened by the reviews I’d seen so far, so it’s possible this also helped with having a nice time reading it. I expected an entertaining ghostly story with lots of murder and was not disappointed.