Home Before Dark
Updated: Jul 13, 2021
Rating - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
"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."
Home Before Dark is a standalone mystery thriller by Riley Sager.
This was going so well, so well, and then came the ending. Why did you have to do that to me?
Out of all of Sager's books, this one was the best but was not quite what I wanted it to be. The book follows pretty much the same format as Sager’s other books. You have a female protagonist who has to face some past tragedy, and you have a timeline that alternates between the past and the present. I think I like the format of this one a bit more since I find the past being told through the use of a book is far more interesting and more compelling compared to his usual format.
The book also seems to be following typical horror stereotypes by having a (presumably) white family move into a (possibly) haunted house. As always, the mother can sense that something is wrong with the house when people have died there, and of course, the father isn’t bothered at all and it’s most likely going to be his fault for what happened because the father never listens to anyone.
Despite the plot not being something new and exciting, I was enjoying myself, until the book did the thing. When it comes to horror/thriller books, there is a specific trope that I absolutely hate, and this book did exactly that. I also found that the ending to the book was kind of disorienting because there was a lot that was going on.
I hope that Sager's books keep getting better since this one was the best so far but could be better.