ARC Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Goodreads // 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.

⭐⭐⭐.5 but almost ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review. Home Before Dark by Riley Sager was published on September 17 2020.

This is my first book by Riley Sager and since I’m a fan of haunted house stories, I was expecting something fun and spooky but not necessarily very original and that’s exactly what I got.

The story of Home Before Dark is told from a dual perspective. We see the Baneberry Hall through the book that Ewan Holt wrote after his family fled the house in the dead of night after only twenty days of living in it, and we see Baneberry Hall through his daughter Maggie’s perspective twenty years later. Maggie’s a bit of a bitter character, angry at her parents for never telling her the truth of what really happened during their time at Baneberry Hall. Although they claim it is the absolute truth, that it wasn’t safe for her to ever go back, she still calls it plain old bullshit that followed her everywhere she went. She had no friends, random people would stop her in the street asking if it was true and everybody thought they knew her.

I have to admit I was very pleasantly surprised by the plot twists and the way the story was told. I was so sure I had this book figured out when suddenly something completely unexpected would happen and I didn’t see the ending coming at all. I loved that! There are a few other stories this reminds me of but that would inadvertently hint at the plot twists so I shall not name them.

Home Before Dark had a great writing style, filled with eerie atmospheric descriptions that really set the mood for the spooky and thrilling parts, and it even had the clichéd ominous chapter enders. I really liked Sager’s writing.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Home Before Dark. I was very engrossed in the story right from the beginning and on the edge of my seat practically hearing all the odd sounds empty houses make in the dark. I recommend it!

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