Book Review #27: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager (2020)

Rating: 3 out of 5⭐️
Title: Home Before Dark: A Novel
Author: Riley Sager
Published: 2020 (Dutton, Penguin Random House)
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
Genres: Thriller, Horror, Mystery, Fiction
*Disclaimer: Recommended for ages 18+
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My borrowed copy of Home Before Dark on top of my dining table

I was excited to finally have the opportunity to read Riley Sager’s fourth and newest release, Home Before Dark. I read all three of Sager’s previous novels, Lock Every Door, The Last Time I Lied, and Final Girls. I wrote reviews for the more recent two around when I first started this blog, and I definitely enjoyed his campy thrillers. So when I heard his newest book was being released, reading this one was a must! There were many and mixed reviews online about this book. Many 4 and 5 star reviews, but quite a few negative reviews. More negative reviews than what I expected from one of his books. I went into this novel with an open mind, and tried not to compare it to other similar horror/mystery plot lines, like the synopsis reveals. The more famously mentioned ones that I found are: The Haunting of Hill House (TV series/book) and Amityville Horror (book/movie).

Every house has a story to tell” – Riley Sager, Home Before Dark

The plot centers around Maggie Holt, a troubled and willful designer and home renovator, whose life is made famous by her father’s book called ‘House of Horrors’. The book reveals the supernatural horrors Maggie’s father Ewan, mother Jess, and 5 year-old Maggie experienced inside their home, Baneberry Hall, a Victorian estate in Vermont. When Maggie’s father passes away, she discovers he left her Baneberry Hall, the place that caused the book that ruined her life. When Maggie goes to Vermont to renovate and eventually sell the estate, a turn of events lead Maggie to start asking some bigger questions about what exactly happened at Baneberry Hall 20 years ago.

This book was basically as expected, and entertaining as hell. I heavily enjoyed this spooky novel, and the only major problem I had with this book was the ending (which will not be spoiled in this review). I felt like this book differed from Sager’s typically novels with more suspense and horror. Even more than Lock Every Door, which also had a little more of a supernatural element. Some moments in Home Before Dark put you on the edge of your seat. The dual perspectives between the protagonist, Maggie, and chapters from her father’s book regarding the haunting flowed, and were refreshing to the story. I probably would have considered giving this one 4 stars if the ending was better and not so rushed.

Few things in life are more disappointing than knowing your parents aren’t being honest with you” – Riley Sager, Home Before Dark

Definitely give this one a chance. It was a quick read, spooky and kept me guessing at every turn. Sager uses all the typical haunted house tropes, which made this book appear cheesy. But if there is any indication the story seems copied from another book/movie/TV show, I think it’s purposefully done as a homage, and not to steal from another author. Why should you read this book? Read this one if you’re looking for an easy, supernatural haunted house thriller with a lot of campy lines and situations. This is typical Riley Sager, but in a haunted estate.

Overall, I give this a 3 out of 5!


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