Cover Image: Home Before Dark

Home Before Dark

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Home before Dark by Riley Sager
I give this book 4 stars
Maggie Holt 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?!
A creepy and mysterious haunted house thriller with great descriptive writing and a good paced build up that had me on edge and gripped turning the pages. I absolutely loved the way the story within a story unfolded with chapters between Maggies (present day) and her father Ewan’s (past House of Horror book) Family secrets and ghosts kept me entertained and guessing right up to the unexpected ending! A spooky October must read recommendation.
With thanks to Netgalley,Riley Sager and Hodder and Stoughton publisher’s for my chance to read and review this book
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3.5⭐ rounded up to 4⭐

This story is told from a dual perspective. We see 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! 

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. 

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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I would like to thank Netgalley and Hodder and Stoughton for a review copy of Home before Dark, a stand-alone thriller set in the Vermont town of Bartleby.

Twenty five years after her family fled Baneberry Hall and her father, Ewan, wrote a best selling book about the events that caused them to flee Maggie Holt discovers she has inherited the house. Determined to get at the truth of what happened then after her parents have spent years refusing to speak about it and quite sure that the hauntings described in the book are invented she moves in with an eye on renovation and sale. It would seem that the house has other ideas as she finds a series of unnerving events occurring.

Wow. What a great read. I was hooked from the start and had to resist temptation at every turn to skip to the end and find out what was going on. I resisted and the solution is as good as the rest of the novel. It is basically two plots with Maggie’s current day experiences alternating with chapters from her father’s book, House of Horrors. Both are equally compelling with Ewan’s tale gradually building up to their flight and Maggie’s more an effort to understand what is hidden in the book. Ewan paints a picture of a house haunted by malevolent spirits and a dark history of death. It is tense, eerie and unsettling but the reader isn’t quite sure what to think as Maggie is convinced it’s all fiction. And then Maggie starts experiencing some of the same events and some of the locals aren’t so sure it’s all fiction. Again it’s tense, eerie and unsettling but her narrative has a more prosaic and unbelieving tone. I think it’s incredibly clever and one of the most entertaining novels I have read this year.

The denouement is another master class in misdirection. I must admit that I had a mild inkling of the how but the who and why were beyond me.

Home before Dark is a clever, compelling read that I have no hesitation in recommending.
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A very good mystery/thriller with some horror/supernatural elements weaved in. The book-within-a-book switching between present day and the past was engaging and added to the creepy atmosphere of the novel. Well-written with good character work and a thrilling conclusion.
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What this book does so, so right: it's creepy (as promised), it's just vague enough that it leaves you guessing about the realness of the two opposite narratives. Both Maggie and her father are convinced that their version of events is the true one and you, in turn, are left convinced every time Sager switches POVs. 

What may turn you off: if this is not your genre or if you don't gobble everything horror/thriller/mystery, then you'll be unimpressed. If you aren't a Sager fan or aren't at least neutral on his writing and stylistic choices then you just might end up dnf'ing. 

This one defies logic so leave yours at the door.
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I love Riley Sager's books. He takes a classic horror trope, puts a modern spin on it and then twists it out of all recognition. Home Before Dark is a super-spooky read that mashes up The Amityville Horror and The Haunting of Hill House (the Netflix version), with a dash of The Enfield Haunting, and creates something new and sparkling.
When Maggie Holt was five years old her family moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling old Victorian mansion that already had a sinister reputation. They lasted all of three weeks before fleeing in the middle of the night, never to return. No one would have known or cared - except Maggie's father then decided to write a book about their ghostly experiences. Now, nearly thirty years later, both Baneberry Hall and Maggie are still notorious.

The story starts as Maggie's father dies and she inherits the house. She's a property developer so she has the idea to move into Baneberry Hall and renovate it to sell. She's not at all worried about the ghosts but because ghosts don't exist - do they?

This is such a fun (and spooky!) read. If you love ghost and haunted house stories, you will absolutely adore this. If' you've read lots of horror you'll recognise the nods to various books. I was on the edge of my seat throughout most of the story, which I read very quickly because I couldn't put it down. It was doubly unfortunate that after the scariest part I was supposed to be putting the light out and going to sleep - as if!

I loved the characters. I loved the setting and the historical background the author created. The clever little twists - the graveyard is one but I can't say any more before of spoilers. I can't say much because of spoilers, actually, so I'll just say that it's a five-star read and I particularly liked the way some of the threads were left loose at the end for you to make your own mind up about what really happened...


Thank you to Riley Sager and Hodder and Stoughton for my copy of this book, which I received via NetGalley and reviewed voluntarily.
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Thank you, Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Home Before Dark is my second book from Riley Sager. I read Lock Every Door last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the author's writing and was fascinated by his style of storytelling. This story was no different. I am also excited about the arrival of my copy of this book from a book subscription box!! It was an alternate choice for a different book and I am so glad I picked this one.
The whole ambiance of the book is the perfect setting for horror. The paranormal elements in the book within the book were brilliant. I did get scared at times, and I had a difficult time sleeping at night as well. The writing is captivating and engaging. I found myself engrossed in the book and the dual storylines that brought something new with each chapter. I loved Ewan's (Maggie's dad) book more than Maggie's POV. Still, the story was unputdownable, and the eerie, ominous vibes made the story so captivating. The characters, both dead and alive, add to the mysterious, creepy vibe of the book. The haunting house, scary sounds at night, crawling things, the creepy song, and ghosts all add to the disturbing and hair-raising mood of the book. The plot-twists are ones that I did not see coming. There were some elements I thought I figured out only to find that I was wrong. I had a good time reading this book, and as I read the book at night, it elevated the reading experience so much! Home Before Dark is a fantastic story that will make you a fan of Riley Sager. If you love books within books, haunted mansions, dark secrets from the past, and hair-raising moments that will make you terrified, this is the perfect book for you. I gave the book 5 stars. I highly recommend checking it out. This suspenseful read is guaranteed to make you a Riley Sager Fan.
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"What was it like? Living in that house.

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years prior, herself and her parents moved into  Victorian estate, Baneberry Hall, spending three weeks before fleeing in the middle of the night. Maggie's father, Ewan, recounted the ordeal to the local press, and finally in a book, a memoir titled House of Horrors, gaining worldwide recognition. In the present day, Maggie has inherited Baneberry Hall following her father's death. She was too young to remember if any of the events described in the book really happened, but doesn't believe a word of it. Nobody wants Maggie to return, but after arriving at the house in order to get into shape for selling, she becomes involved with the house again, with its secrets and unwelcoming happenings, and is determined to uncover the truth about what happened all those years ago."

Alright guys, turns out three books is enough for me to decide Riley Sager is not for me.
Typically my past complaints have been that I enjoy his ideas, but find the execution lacking.

In this case, with the ideas almost entirely lifted from other works, I can't even grant him originality as a positive. This was an easy read, I was interested enough to keep going but realistically I would have DNF'd had this not been a review copy.

The book has massive Haunting of Hill House vibes - both novel and netflix adaptation. Taking inspiration from other works is one thing, but a lot of this bordered on being a straight-up copy. It also had huge Amityville Horror vibes. From other reviews, a certain part involving bells was directly lifted from a King novel (I wouldn't know, I don't read King).

The writing was mostly okay. The 'haunting' events were repetitive to a fault. It's a way that would probably work better in visual media, to signal that something else is going to happen maybe? In text, however, it was tiring and borderline irritating. Additionally, the ending was just strange. I'm gonna try and avoid spoilers here, but banging multiple twists together doesn't make a conclusion "twisty", it just makes it nonsensical. A lot of it required a much larger suspension of belief than I'm willing to offer. Finally, you can't just winkingly refer to a 'scooby-doo' ending and expect everyone to ignore the fact it was, actually, a scooby-doo ending.

This wasn't for me but I'm expecting if you enjoy Sager's other works then this will probably be right up your alley. For me, unfortunately, it was the final nail in the coffin.

Big thanks to the author, NetGalley, and Hodder & Stoughton for the review copy.
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When I discovered that this was about a haunted house, I was immediately ready to love it. Ghosts are my nightmare fuel. I hate the idea of something watching me from the dark, malevolent, hidden. However, I'm pretty secure in the knowledge that none of the shit that happens in this book will ever happen to me because I would nope the hell out WAY before it got to that point. Curiosity kills way more than cats. 

But don't come looking for that kind of cynical realism in this book. If you're the type to ask 'why would somebody stay in a haunted house??? --look away now. This is a Scooby Doo mystery through and through. Put your 'that wouldn't happen' hat away and go with it. It's probably best to approach it as you would a horror movie. We might question why some young blonde decided to run through the woods alone or an extraneous character went to 'check out the noise' but DO WE CARE? No. 

What we do have is a clever building of suspense expertly realised through a dual timeline. In one, we follow excerpts from the 'House of Horrors', a tell-all book written by Ewan Holt about the time his family spent in the haunted house...and why they could NEVER go back. In the other, Maggie returns to find out what really happened during those 20 days she lived at Baneberry, hoping, finally, to put it all behind her. But is it going it be that easy?? Of course not. Where's the fun in that? As she begins to discover the truth behind her father's stories, she's forced to wonder if he was right about it all...

I wish I’d read this in Spooktober, it’s a perfect Halloween read. Actually, it’s a damn good read any time. Atmospheric and fun, this is creepy enough to make you check ALL your house's hiding places before dark.


ARC via Netgalley
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I am always up for a good ghost story. So I was very eager to read the new book from Riley Sager. I read all of his books so far and he never failed to deliver an entertaining read.

When Maggie was five she moved with her parents to a very large mansion. His father fell immediately in love with this big house with its eerie atmosphere and he convinced his wife to buy it. But soon afterwards they learn that Baneberry Hall has a dark history. Maggie soon begins to have imaginary friends, or ghosts, and disturbing things are happening. After only 21 days in this house, the family flees in the middle of the night. They never returned. Afterwards her father wrote a book about their experience and it became very successful. 

Maggie never believed anything her father wrote in his bestselling book. She herself has no memory of their time in Baneberry Hall but she is sure she would remember if they have encountered ghostly apparitions. Her father died recently and to her utter astonishment she learnt that he still owned Baneberry Hall and she inherited it. She decides to sell it and before that she wants to take a look at it and maybe put some work into it to make it interesting for potential buyers. Of course she does not believe in ghosts and her father made the whole story up to get attention as a writer. But as soon as she arrives in Baneberry Hall she begins to experience strange occurrences witch make her think that maybe not everything her father wrote was made-up.

The problem with good ghost stories is to bring it to a satisfying end. These kinds of books usually have a good start and keep their spooky atmosphere for a while but towards the end they fall flat. Riley Sager manages it to bring his story to a generally conclusive end. Maybe it is a bit over the top and there are one or two twists too many but for me it worked. The story itself is interesting and not too scary. It is a fast and entertaining read. Unfortunately I could not connect to Maggie. I found her very stubborn and self-centered. I understand she had a difficult childhood being “that girl from the horror house” but I found her not very likeable. But besides that I enjoyed the book.
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I was so excited when I requested this book. Unfortunately for me it did not deliver. A slow burner which I found predictable and somewhat lacking in suspense. A ghost story that for me the reader was neither  scary or believable. I usually love this authors books but this book left me flat. Saying that I am sure other readers will enjoy it more just not for me. 
Thanks to Hodder and Stoughton and Netgalley for the ARC in return for giving an honest review.
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Actual rating: 4.75 stars.

Home Before Dark was one of my most anticipated books of the year, and I'm glad to say it didn't disappoint. 
The story follows Maggie as she comes back to Baneberry Hall, where she lived with her parents, when she was a child, for only three weeks; after that, they fled in the middle of the night because they said the house was haunted. Her father, Ewan, wrote an incredibly successful book about their stay, and after his death Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall and comes back there with the intent of proving her father told a bunch of lies, and of finding out the true reason they left so suddenly.

I love books which mix the mystery and the horror genre, and Home Before Dark was very successful in this regard. The novel alternates Maggie's point of view with the book written by her father, and Ewan's is a classic ghost story. Both storylines started a little slow, but then the story picked up in both cases, and I couldn't stop reading. Some scenes from Ewan's book where really quite creepy, and the ending of Maggie's story, when we finally find out what happened the night we fled, was phenomenal. From the half point of the book I was sure I had the ending figured out, but I was so wrong! The reveal was a fantastic surprise and absolutely satisfying.

I would highly recommend this book if you like both mystery and horror, or if you just want a good read!
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Home Before Dark, Riley Sager. 4/5 

When Maggie Holt was a little girl her parents brought a rambling county house, Baneberry Hall. They lasted three weeks before they fled in the dead of night. Her father wrote a bestselling memoir, House of Horrors about the malevolent spirits and hauntings that sent them running. Maggie has spent her whole life in the shadow of the book, having always convinced herself it was a lie, so when her father dies and leaves Maggie the house, she returns to finally seek the truth. 
Within days of her return she starts to question whether the book was more fact than fiction, because somebody doesn’t want Maggie back there....

Big Riley Sager fan here so i was thrilled to get a copy of #homebeforedark from #netgalley and #hodderandstoughton. 

I honestly love the way Riley Sager does something new with each thriller he brings out. Final Girls was just that, a last girl standing horror slasher, Lock Every Door was a Gothic, Charlotte Perkins-esque mind bender and The Last Time I Lied was a full blown summer camp classic horror. Honestly, each story is uniquely sinister, thrilling and has its own hook. 

Home Before Dark has that creepy, haunted house, don’t turn around, something is in the corner of your eye feel. I’d seen a few reviews of this that didn’t love it but I really did. The historical build up, the setting, those final chapters that just punched you straight in the gut. It is a perfect blend. The duel narratives were a brilliant way to twist the tale. This is another book that i could see with a tv adaption.
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Home Before Dark is the fourth Riley Sager novel I've read, the first thing I noticed was that the writing was unfamiliar. I wish I could pinpoint what I mean by that but I can't. I had to keep reminding myself this was Sager and not a new-to-me author. Is that good or bad? I don't know. The only similarity I could see was that Sager seems to base his novels around places rather than characters. A cabin, a campsite, a high rise and now Baneberry Hall.

The tale is told in two narratives; a book within a book and first-person present tense from Maggie's POV. We follow Maggie as she tries to separate fact from fiction in her father's supposedly true story novel about the haunted house of her childhood.

It takes a fair while to really get going and I found 's inner monologue to be a little to repetitive. I'd have liked more conflict than the single point of focus- separating the truth from the lie. How many coinkydinks do you need woman? 

Although Home Before Dark is definitely a slow burner, I did enjoy the pay off. The ending corkscrews with revelation upon revelation, some of which I had an inkling of early on but Sager had many surprises in store. The way he tied the House Of Horrors book into the actual events was very clever, I just didn't gel with Maggie as much as I'd like.

I guess I'm on the fence with this one, of the four Riley Sager novels I've read thus far I'd recommend Last Time I Lied first.
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I was so excited to read this, having loved Riley Sager's last book. Unfortunately, this one didn't quite hit me the same way and I was left feeling a bit underwhelmed. It tells the story of Maggie Holt, a 30 something interior designer who was the subject of a tell-all haunted house book when she was young. In the present day, the house in question has been left to her in her father's will and she must return to uncover all of its secrets. The premise here is great and I really liked the way the book was structured. The story unfolds in alternating chapters, with one being Maggie's story in the present and the other being chapters from the book her father wrote about their experiences in the house. This did a fabulous job of increasing the tension as each section felt like a mini-cliffhanger. Where I think the story was lacking for me was in the reveals, which I found a little predictable and disappointing. Sager walks a fine line between the mundane and the supernatural, but I felt like he didn't get the balance quite right here for me. Overall, I found this to be a fast-paced and enjoyable read, but it isn't a new favourite and left me a bit flat.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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I was initially put off reading this book fearing that it was going to be scary. Luckily, Home Before Dark is more of a thriller than a horror which was perfect for this scaredy-cat! I absolutely loved it.

It oozes all the good stuff; foreboding, suspicious characters, jaw-dropping plot twists, gothic elements and plenty of suspense. While some of the chapters are sort of long, they never feel like they drag because the pacing and tension is executed flawlessly. It constantly propels you to keep reading. And the alternating chapters between Maggie’s perspective and her parents’ book is fantastic for building tension and dropping hints to what might happen next in the “real story”.

If you’re concerned that this book is going to creep you out, don’t be. It’s eerie and tense but not scary.
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Ein Spukhaus in dem über viele Jahrzehnte immer wieder seltsame Morde geschehen. Unsere Hauptfigur Maggie wohnt als kleiner Kind eine kurze Zeit in dem Haus. 25 Jahre später erbt Maggie das Haus und versucht nun herauszufinden, ob die Geschehnisse damals wirlich so übernatürlich sind, wie es scheint.
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Maggie has grown up in the shadow of her father's famous book - billed as a piece of non fiction about their time staying in a haunted house. She doesn't have any memories of her time staying at Baneberry, and from a young age always thought her father had made the whole thing up to make money. But after his death, she discovers that she has inherited the house and all its secrets. Determined to uncover the truth, she sets out to discover what really happened there over 25 years ago. But Maggie might not be ready for the truth, and the house may have its own deadly agenda.

This is my first foray into the world of Riley Sager, but I'd heard great things about his previous thrillers and was intrigued about his more modern take on the haunted house genre and the added thriller element. I have to say I was certainly thrilled, and pleasantly surprised, at how spooky, atmospheric and chilling this was. The house takes on a persona of its own, with a gruesome backstory filled with murder and lies. It's a presence that broods throughout two timelines, almost as though it's watching and waiting to strike at any moment. It certainly racks up the tension that permeates the two plots. 

I also really liked the clever interweaving of the two stories. We have Maggie's story, told in the present day - but we also have alternating chapters of her father's book. By doing this, we get to see how similar the two stories are - ghosts and all, while each story still fells contained with a distinct voice of its own. The famous book chapters are often melodramatic, over the top and contrived while Maggie's story is a lot more subtle, with a creeping sense of foreboding. It also feels that at times Maggie's father Ewen is there beside Maggie as she finds out about these horrors and truths. He's almost like a ghost himself, or a shadow, guiding Maggie. It was a nice juxtaposition to the malevolent spirits of the house. 

I will say that Maggie isn't necessarily a likeable character. She'se's a bit of a brat, spoilt by her divorced parents growing up, she's reckless and willful while managing to rub most of the secondary characters up the wrong way. She jumps to conclusions without listening too, which leads to some awful decisions that could potentially lead to life altering consequences. Her closed off, bristly demeanor made it hard for me to connect with her at times - however, I did find more common ground with child Maggie and this helped in my understanding of adult Maggie's behaviour. 

Fast paced, highly atmospheric thriller that takes a twist on haunted houses and runs with it. Although the ending and conclusion seemed a little too fast, I didn't see that ending coming and I was surprised at just how scary this got. Highly recommend for the spooky season.
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What an incredible read! First book by Sager and I'm sad it's taken this long! This is begging for adaptation on TV or film!
A creepy, twisty, chilling tale that is way more than a typical ghost story!
Intricately plotted and the time frames were superb. An edge of my seat thriller that I could not and did not want to put down! I cannot recommend this book highly enough! Read it and enjoy the white knuckle ride!
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When Maggie Holt is  five years old her parents, Ewan and Jess buy Baneberry Hall in Vermont. It’s neglected, has quite a history from its construction in 1875 by William Garson but it’s cheap! Twenty days later they flee the house never to return. Ewan writes a book, ‘House of Horrors’, about their brief time there which becomes a best seller but it blights Maggie’s life especially as her recollections are not the same as her fathers. So whose memories are the accurate ones? Is the book a lie?  Her father has now died and she discovers he never sold it ... so of course she returns despite her father’s deathbed request to ‘never go back’. The story is told in the present by Maggie alternating with chapters from Ewan’s book. 

Well, if you are looking for a good Halloween, things that go bump in the night read, then this fits the bill. The atmosphere of the house is excellent and Garson and his daughters Indigo’s presence looms large. It’s eerie, creepy, spooky and chilling in places especially as the secrets of the house and it’s occupants deepen. There are shocks that rock, some very sinister and unsettling events such as sounds of music sufficient to induce fearful nightmares and some events that make you shudder. I find Ewan’s story much more appealing and entertaining than Maggie’s as it is especially tense, suspenseful and gripping. However, that maybe skewed by me finding the ending a bit of an anticlimax. 

Overall, it’s very well written and entertaining but it didn’t entirely blow my socks all the way of my feet! 

I had to look Baneberry's up as I’d never heard of them. They look innocuous as often deadly plants do. 

With thanks to NetGalley and Hodder and Stoughton for the much appreciated copy for an honest review.
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