Saturday, March 27, 2021

Book Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Title: Home Before Dark
Author: Riley Sager
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: June 30th 2020
Print Length: 397 pages
Genre: Contemporary Thriller
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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.

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MY REVIEW:
I've read all of Riley Sager's books so far, so when I saw that he had released Home Before Dark, I knew I had to read that book too. While it wasn't Sager's best work, I still enjoyed reading it.

After Maggie's father dies, she inherits Baneberry Hall, a place Maggie and her family escaped many years ago when she was 5 years old. Maggie's father has written a best seller about their stay in Baneberry Hall, but Maggie doesn't believe it. However, when she returns to Baneberry Hall, strange things start happening...things that Maggie's father wrote about in the book. Could it be ghosts or is Maggie just imagining things?

The plot of Home Before Dark is certainly intriguing. However, the first three quarters of the book were a bit too slow of a pace for my liking. I only kept reading because I was hoping the book would get better. My patience was rewarded in the last quarter of Home Before Dark when the pacing sped up, and I couldn't put this book down. I kept trying to figure out if Maggie was experiencing a haunting and who the ghosts could be. Home Before Dark has a great plot twist (that I didn't see coming). Even its plot twist had a plot twist which was exciting! I also thought it was pretty cool how Home Before Dark reads as two books since we get to read the book Maggie's father wrote as well as what is happening to Maggie in the here and now. Both stories flow together smoothly. At the end of the book, my jaw was left on the floor after what all had happened. All loose ends are tied up nicely, and there are no cliffhangers.

I enjoyed the characters in Home Before Dark. Each character was fleshed out well and had enough backstory where it was easy to picture each individual one. I enjoyed reading about Maggie. Her skepticism was a nice touch, and her thought process was interesting. I could totally relate with her wanting to know if her father's book was actually true and wanting to find out the mystery of why her family actually left Banebury Hall when she was 5 without taking any belongings. I also loved reading about Maggie's father and her mother Jess through Maggie's father's book. (I felt like their story was a bit more interesting than Maggie's.) I get why they did what they did many years ago even if I didn't agree with what they did.

Trigger warnings for Home Before Dark include violence, death, murder, talks of suicide, attempted murder, some profanity, and the occult.

Although Home Before Dark starts out slow, it definitely makes up for it towards the end. With an intriguing plot and well written characters, Home Before Dark is a book worth reading. I would recommend Home Before Dark by Riley Sager to those aged 16+ who are after a creepy thrilling read.

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