Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
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.
“It’s not safe there. Nor for you.”
Riley Sager is becoming one of my favorite authors. I loved Lock Every Door by him, and I love him even more after Home Before Dark. This book offered the right amount of suspense and horror for me. From the beginning I was wondering, along with the principal character, Maggie, what happened at Baneberry that scared her parents so much. At every turn there was additional information being revealed about Baneberry Hall, such as multiple deaths occurring there and where the weird noises were coming from.
The book is told in alternating POVs – Maggie’s and her father’s from his book, House of Horrors. Riley Sager uses this in multiple books of his, but it’s very beneficial in Home Before Dark. Since Maggie’s father has passed away, this is the only way that we can understand him. Through his writing, I could find a connection to Baneberry Hall and understand why Maggie was so upset. The longer Maggie stayed at Baneberry Hall though, the more I wondered whether her father was telling the truth. Many people fake their experiences, but once Maggie started asking questions to the people around town, her father’s account of the house seems more fact than fiction.
I wanted for Maggie to be wrong about her father’s book because I believed that a parent wouldn’t put their child through the unwanted fame without reason. I understand that her father could have not written the book, but I think he didn’t want Maggie to forget about her time there. By the time she is an adult, she’s forgotten so much, except for what was in the book. I believe it helped her solve the mystery of Baneberry Hall.
Overall, I believe you should read this book if you enjoy a great thriller! This one will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end!