Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Title: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense, Supernatural
Length: 397 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


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?

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 by Riley Sager is an eerie mystery with supernatural aspects.

Twenty-five years after their family fled in terror, Maggie Holt returns to Baneberry Hall.  Only five years old during their twenty days in the home, Maggie has no memories of what happened while living there with her parents, Ewan and Jess.  Following the death of her father, she is shocked to learn her parents did not sell the estate.  Now the owner, Maggie returns to Baneberry in order to refurbish then sell the home. With only Ewan’s best-selling novel about their experiences to fill in the  missing blanks, she hopes to discover once and for all if there is any truth to what lies within the pages of the Book. Highly skeptical of his claims, will Maggie find out the truth about those long ago terrifying events?

Not long after leaving Baneberry, Maggie’s parents divorced and never again spoke of their time in the house.  Maggie’s relationships with both Ewan and Jess after their split are troubled and even in adulthood,  her encounters with Maggie are strained.  Although Maggie and Ewan went through their fair share of ups and downs over the years, they remained close until his death.

Despite loving her father deeply, Maggie fully believes her father’s best-selling novel is full of lies. And some of her discoveries at Baneberry Hall reinforce this belief. However, after strange incidences that closely mirror some scenes depicted in the Book, Maggie cannot help but wonder if she has misjudged Ewan.  But a shocking discovery leaves Maggie reeling and she is uncertain what to believe.  Desperate to learn what happened the family’s last night at Baneberry Hall, is Maggie prepared for what she might uncover?

With the past events revealed through pages of Ewan’s novel, the Holt’s delight in their new home quickly wanes. They are soon plagued by strange sounds and peculiar sightings. But it is Maggie’s sudden imaginary friends that trouble Ewan and Jess the most. Their daughter’s insists  that her new  “friends” are real and they are whispering terrifying warnings. Will Ewan unearth the truth about the apparently spectral phenomena occurring with frightening regularity?  Is Maggie really experiencing visits from ghosts connected to their home’s past?

Home Before Dark is a deliciously creepy mystery with sinister horror elements. Maggie is quite stubborn even in the face of her growing fear about what she might discover about her family.  The ghostly happenings becoming increasingly ominous as Riley Sager brings this mesmerizing mystery to a twist-filled, edge of the seat conclusion.  An absolutely spine-tingling tale that I HIGHLY recommend!

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Filed under Contemporary, Dutton, Home Before Dark, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Riley Sager, Supernatural Elements, Suspense

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