Friday, July 31, 2020

Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Title: Home Before Dark
Author: Riley Sager
Published: June 2020, Dutton Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 384 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

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.

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?

My thoughts: As you know, I am a huge Riley Sager fan. I've read and loved his previous three books. Each new one I read becomes my new favorite, but I really think this one tops all his others.

I had been looking forward to this new one book for many reasons. Of course, the first being that it's just a new Riley Sager book. I literally devour these books and of course that's always such a good/bad thing. Good, because that obviously means I really liked it but bad because it means it will be that much longer until I have another new one in my hands.

But probably the more pressing reason I was looking forward to this particular book is that I knew it was going to have Amityville Horror vibes to it and I live right across the creek from this famed house. I literally look at the back of this house every day. Talk about being able to read a book in the most perfect of atmospheres!

This book was just the right amount of spooky and creepy, but not overly so. It never got to the point that I needed to put it down. And the whole book-within-a-book format works so well here. The two timelines give us two very distinctive voices that make this story really engaging on all parts. Maggie's POV is told in the present day just after she has inherited the house. The other timeline is excerpts of the book, written by Maggie's father after the family had lived in the house.

I loved seeing the parallels between what had happened in the book years ago happen again in Maggie's life now in the present. The book is a creepy story but are we supposed to believe it? That's what keeps you hooked and flipping that pages. And Maggie's chapters are just as engaging. Maggie grew up believing that her father was a liar, but is it possible that the house was really haunted?

This book is the reason why I love picking up books that have just a hint of horror. They are creepy but not to the point that I got nightmares! They are incredibly binge-worthy and addicting - once you start reading, you become totally consumed by the story and just want to know what is going on. I absolutely loved this book and would recommend it to anyone who loves a good chilling tale!


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