Book Reviews Fiction

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!

Book Reviews Fiction

Review: The Body Double by Emily Beyda


A dark, glittering debut novel, The Body Double is the suspenseful story of a young woman who is recruited by a stranger to give up her old life and identity to impersonate a reclusive Hollywood star.

A strange man discovers our nameless narrator selling popcorn at a decrepit small-town movie theater and offers her an odd and lucrative position: she will forget her job, her acquaintances, even her name, and move to Los Angeles, where she will become the body double of the famous and troubled celebrity Rosanna Feld. A nervous breakdown has forced Rosanna out of the public eye, and she needs a look-alike to take her place in the tabloid media circus of Hollywood. Overseen by Max, who hired her for the job, our narrator spends her days locked up in a small apartment in the hills watching hidden camera footage of Rosanna, wearing Rosanna’s clothes, eating the food Rosanna likes, practicing her mannerisms, learning to become Rosanna in every way. But as she makes her public debut as Rosanna, dining at elegant restaurants, shopping in stylish boutiques, and finally risking a dinner party with Rosanna’s true inner circle, alarming questions begin to arise. What really caused Rosanna’s mental collapse? Will she ever return? And is Max truly her ally, or something more sinister? With echoes of Hitchcock’s Vertigo, The Body Double is a fabulously plotted noir about fame, beauty, and the darkness of Hollywood. 

My Thoughts:

I am giving this book a 4/5. The story was complex and I was steadily questioning the characters and every event. It definitely had me going and I was thinking that at some point all the stuff was going to hit the fan. It definitely did. The main characters were interesting and a tad bit creepy.  Our narrator has no name and it makes sense since she is taking on the identity of someone else.  Not only that, she tells us a few details about the life she left behind like her foster mom and her biological father and in all honesty, no one will miss her.   She has to give up her past life in order to carry out this elaborate plan of pretending to be a Hollywood actress, Rosanna Feld. She has to learn her mannerisms, dress like her, and even live like her to an extent.  The amount of work that has to be done is ridiculous. She has to get plastic surgery and eat like her. Not only that, she is trapped in this apartment for months learning to be like Rosanna by watching these videos that Max shows her.  

Max, the man who is helping our narrator, does not come off as trustworthy to me.  He is weird and creepy. Our narrator has never really been loved and somehow he knows that. How long has he been watching our narrator and what is his relationship with Rosanna?  Whatever their relationship may be, it’s weird. I know he is supposed to guide our narrator, but he seems too close to the situation. Also, how is he seeing everything that they do?  There was a large amount of videos that our narrator watched in order to copy Rosanna’s voice and know what she wanted to order or what she would buy. Where does Max go when he leaves our narrator? There are so many questions that I had while reading and everything just made him seem more creepy. You have to wait until the end to figure out why our narrator must pretend to be Rosanna. All I’m saying is that I knew Max was weird and that nothing in this story seemed quite right.

I’m not sure I would be able to give up my life and become someone else even if money was involved.  I would not want to lose my family or friends. Even though my life may not be as fabulous, I definitely appreciate everything that I have been given.  This book will make you question what would you do and have you looking at everyone around you more closely. I don’t think I would enjoy being told what I can and cannot do or being told when I can and cannot leave.  The only way I would be able to do this is if I really had no one in my life that cared for me or would miss me if I disappeared. I am most uncomfortable with the idea of someone watching me at all times and me having to change everything about myself to fit into this lifestyle.  Everything is super weird. Either way, I will let you determine whether or not you would like to purchase this book yourself when it is released.

Thank you Netgalley and Double Day Books for granting me this e-ARC.  The Body Double will be released in March 3, 2020.