Cover Image: Home Before Dark

Home Before Dark

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Riley Sager. Im a big fan and again he delivers a great story.

Maggie Holts father wrote a book about a house they bought and lived in 25 years ago when Maggie was 5. They spent only 20 days in the house before fleeing in terror with only the clothes on their back.
After reporting strange goings on to the police, her father writes a non fiction account of what happened and it becomes an international best seller. A story of a haunted house, of ghosts that appeared only to Maggie. Her life has been defined by this book.
The thing is, Maggie has no memory of the house or the ghosts, or what even happened that led them to flee. She doesnt believe her fathers account and despite asking them many times through the years, neither parent will talk about what happened in the house during those 20 days.

Present day with her parents long divorced, her father passes away, his final words to Maggie to never return to that house.
When she goes to see a lawyer about the will, she is not surprised to see that there is a substantial sum of cash left to her. The book did very well and her mother had told her father she didnt want anything of his.
What she is surprised at is, her father never sold the house and so it is passed on to her. She is shocked by this but also curious.

Being a partner in and interior design business, and after meeting with her mother for one last time for answers about the house, she decides she will do the house up and sell it. She will set foot in the house again for the first time in 25 years. Is she really looking just to renovate the house or is she looking for answers?
As she moves in strange things start to happen and the more time she spends there, the more she begins to think her father may have been telling the truth all along.

This is a really enjoyable read. Loads of suspense, its hard to know what to believe as the author leads you one way and then another. Alternating between the present with Maggie in the house and extracts from the book in the past, it will have your head spinning trying to figure out whats going on.
The tension really ramps up about half way through to nail biting proportions, finally coming to a very very satisfying ending.

The pacing on this was just about spot on. A lot of the first half is spent with small strange occurrences and things that go bump in the night. These repeat over and over and I feared it would become repetitive like some other "haunted house" stories I have read, but just as it was bordering on it, it changed pace and we are taken in new directions I never saw coming.

Sager is a great writer and story teller. I havent read a book by him yet that I didnt enjoy and the subject matter has varied quite a lot. This one is no exception.

Many thanks to Netgalley, Hodder & Stoughton and Riley Sager for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
4.5 stars
Having read Riley Sager's first three books, I could not contain my excitement for Home Before Dark. 
And much like Riley Sager's other books I was all in from the very beginning.
Flipping from Maggie's current day perspective to her father's book worked really well and Home Before Dark was such a great take on the haunted house story.
It had so many different layers to it and both Maggie and her father's chapters were as immersive as each other. This had me longing to read more and more.
It's hard to know what is real and whether what her father wrote was really true, right up until the end. 
There were a few things that were left unresolved for me at the end, such as who was turning on the record player and chandelier in Maggie's chapters. And were the snakes actually real, given their significance to the reveal re. Indigo. And if so, what was the cause of them.
But I would definitely recommend this to fans of Sager's or the likes of Ruth Ware. And I can't wait to see what Sager writes next.
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This is a fantastically creepy thriller from the author of Lock Every Door and Final Girls. There are Amityville Horror vibes, with hints of The Haunting of Hill House and The Shining. Who can resist a haunted house story?! Not me, that’s for sure.

There are two narratives. One is in the present day, told by house renovator Maggie Holt. The other is an extract from a book written by her father about the spooky goings-on at Baneberry Hall, a run-down place in Vermont with a grim history. Something happened that was so terrible, that the Holt family fled and never returned. Now, after her father’s death, Maggie has inherited Baneberry Hall and is determined to discover what really happened. She was only five at the time of the alleged hauntings and either doesn’t remember much or has blocked it out.

I like how Riley Sager expertly teases us. Were the ghostly events real or can they all be explained rationally? What secrets are Maggie’s parents hiding? Why did her father write the book? And would Maggie be different, less bitter, without the notorious fame which has plagued her life? It was very intriguing and I kept on turning the pages. There were so many twists at the end of the book, you probably won’t guess all of them.

Recommended! Thank you to the publisher Hodder and Stoughton for the advance copy via NetGalley. The book was published this month and is now available to buy.

[Reviewed on my blog on 27th September 2020]
Was this review helpful?
This book further solidifies Riley Sager as one of my ultimate favourite authors.
I was apprehensive about this book when I first heard it was about a haunted house, which isn't usually my cup of tea. 
I am glad the need to read Sager's new book overrode my apprehension. I absolutely loved it! It scared me, a grown human being too scared to get up and use the bathroom in the night. But I had to keep reading to get to the bottom of the mystery.

The twists and turns were unexpected but it all made sense and felt natural to the story.

This might be my favourite of Riley Sager's book so far.
Was this review helpful?
A book that’s been getting rave reviews and my raves join in.So creepy so chilling  a book that will scare you but keep you racing through the pages.Maggie’s character come alive,the haunted house with its creeping noises .A story that goes back and forth in time keeping you on the edge of your seat.Highly recommend,#netgalley#homebeforedark
Was this review helpful?
Riley Sager's latest is a spine chiller of a gothic haunted house mystery set on a sprawling Victorian estate in Vermont called Baneberry Hall, with a dual time line narrative, set in the past and the present. 25 years ago, Maggie Holt was five years old when her family fled Baneberry Hall in the dead of the night after three weeks of living there, but she has no memories of this time. Her father, Owen, later wrote the notorious bestseller, House of Horrors, in which he documented the trauma and terrors, the spirits of malevolence and ghostly apparitions. The book has been the the bane of Maggie's life, she does not believe in ghosts or in Owen's account of what happened, attributing her parents divorce and her testing relationship with her father to it. Her parents had refused to answer all the questions she had, advising her that the house was not safe for her and she must never go there. Her father is now dead, and Maggie has inherited Baneberry Hall.

Maggie makes the decision to return to Baneberry Hall to prepare and renovate it for sale, but also because she wants to know the truth of what happened so long ago. Unsurprisingly, many figures from the past and the locals are less than welcoming of her, given all the negative publicity the place had received as a result of Owen's book. It's not long before weird and strange events begin to occur, a nightmare where the present begins to echo and thrum with the shadows of the past and what Maggie's father had described and written of in House of Horrors. Sager expertly deploys many of the common tropes of the genre to seamlessly weave two timelines in a twisted, spooky and compulsive story, of secrets, of things that go bump in the night, with its ever building sense of dread and creepiness.

This is a fast paced and entertaining read, a perfect haunted house mystery for the upcoming dark nights of Autumn and Winter that many readers will adore. Many thanks to Hodder and Stoughton for an ARC.
Was this review helpful?
This is the first book i have read by Riley Sager and i shall definitely be picking up more. Ghost type haunted house stories are never ones i go for but after all the hype surrounding it i had to request it from netgalley and was happy when i got approved. I loved the two timelines and we got the perspectives from what Ewan states in the book and Maggie from the present day who is finding out if it was all real after inheriting the house, the plot twist i thought i saw coming but when it turned into another twist i was shocked. I found this book to be really creepy and i really enjoyed the twists and turns. Read it in one sitting in a couple of hours as i just could not put it down as i always wanted to know what happened next. A book i really recommend.
Was this review helpful?
4.5/5 (but it's better 5, than 4 stars)

I don’t read many thrillers because I don’t like depressing thrillers. Unfortunately, this is hard to determine from the description, so I'm afraid of thrillers. But because of the big hype, I already read Sager’s previous book and I liked it pretty much (4/5 stars) and looked pretty similar in mood, so I was interested. Luckily, I got approved on NetGalley, so I started reading it immediately.
The story is about Maggie, whose whole life was about a book and a house. When she was a kid, she and her parents moved into a house, and they moved out within a few weeks because it was a haunted house. Their story was written by her father in a book that became a bestseller. At the beginning of the story, Maggie is confronted with the fact that her father never sold the house and she inherited it. Since she has no memories of the time she spent there, she decides to go back to the house and find out what actually happened there.
I really like it when the book isn’t written in the usual style. At the end of each chapter, we get an excerpt from a book written by her father. I really liked it. We got to know the story of her father's book, while Maggie tries to discover the truth.
Even the description of a haunted story suggests that the book will be atmospheric. And it was partly true. I liked the atmosphere, but I felt more could have been brought out of it. Maybe extra creepy parts were missing? I didn’t feel scared at all.
The characters were ok. Apart from Maggie, we don't know any in detail. I liked that there were no black and white characters. But I didn’t feel Maggie was a strong enough, I think she wasn't enough to take the story on her back.
For a thriller, the twist has a big importance. I have to say the twist was pretty good, but it wasn’t shocking. In fact, without the final turn, it would be more interesting. The turn was not extra.
I really liked the book, but something was missing. If any of the above mentioned (mood, characters, more shocking twists) had been more in the book, I think I would give 5 stars. I enjoy the writer's books, I have to read the first two, too :)

In Hungarian:
Nem olvasok sok thrillert, mert nem szeretem a depressziós hangulatú thrillereket. Sajnos, ezt nehéz meghatározni a leírás alapján, ezért számomra ez mindig lutri. De a nagy hype miatt már elolvasta Sager előző könyvét, és eléggé bejött (4/5 csillag), és hangulatában eléggé hasonlónak tűnt, így eléggé felcsigázott a könyv. Szerencsére, NetGalley-n pozitív elbírálást kaptam, így rögtön neki is estem. 
A történet Maggie-ről szól, akinek az egész élete egy könyv és egy ház körül forgott. Amikor gyerek volt szüleivel beköltözött egy házba, ahonnan pár héten belül kiköltöznek, mivel szellemek lakta. Ezt az apja megírja egy könyvben, ami világhírű lett. A történet elején Maggie azzal szembesül, hogy apja sosem adta el a házat, és ő megörökölte. Mivel emlékei nincsenek az ott töltött időről, úgy dönt visszamegy a házba, és utánajár, mi is történt ott valójában. 
Én nagyon szeretem, amikor a könyv nem a megszokott stílusban íródik. Itt minden fejezet végén kapunk egy-egy részletet az apja által írt könyvből. Nekem ez nagyon tetszett. Megismerkedhettünk az történettel, ami az apja szerint történt, közben meg Maggie próbálja felfedezni, hogy igaz abból valami. 
Egy kísértetházas történetnek már a leírása is azt sugallja, hogy hangulatos lesz a könyv. És részben igaz is volt. Tetszett a hangulat, de úgy érzem többet is ki lehetett volna hozni belőle. Talán még több félelmetes rész hiányzott? Én egyáltalán nem éreztem félelmetesnek. 
A karakterek is okésak voltak. Maggie-n kívül egyet sem ismerünk meg részletesen. Tetszett, hogy nem voltak fekete-fehér karakterek. De Maggie-t nem éreztem elég erős karakternek, nekem nem volt elég, hogy elvigye a történetet, főleg, hogy az apján kívül szinte csak őt ismerhettük meg rendesen. 
Egy thrillernél sokat vet a latba a végső fordulat. Azt kell mondanom elég jó volt ez a rész, de azért nem volt átütő. Sőt, talán a legvégső fordulatot én kihagytam volna, számomra az a végkifejlett érdekesebb lett volna, SPOILER Nem sokkolt a fordulat, szeretném végre megérni, hogy valamelyik thriller lesokkoljon. 
Nagyon tetszett a könyv, de valami hiányzott. Ha a fenti említettek közül (hangulat, karakterek, sokkolóbb fordulat) valami átütőbb lett volna, szerintem megadtam volna az 5 csillagot. Azt kell mondanom, élvezem az író könyveit, az első kettőre is sort kell kerítenem :)
Was this review helpful?
Twenty-five years ago, Maggie Holt and her parents Ewan and Jess fled Baneberry Hall after only moving in three weeks prior to this.  Maggie's father Ewan wrote a book about their time in the house, telling the story of strange happenings and ghosts.  Maggie has never known if there is any truth to the story as she was too young to remember.  When her father passes away, she is shocked to find out that her parents never sold Baneberry Hall and that she has inherited it.  She returns to the house to renovate it and sell it on, but finds herself taking a trip to the past as she begins to discover things about the history and secrets of the house and must also deal with the locals, some of whom aren't happy to see Maggie back.  When strange things start to happen in the house, she wonders if the ghost story her father told could be true after all...

This book was fantastic - a brilliant and eerie plot, great characters and shocking twists and turns.  I loved every minute of the book and the ending was surprising and great.  A wonderful mystery story that I can't recommend enough.  All of Riley Sager's books are fantastic.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy of the book in return for my honest feedback.
Was this review helpful?
3.5 stars

SPOILERS in review.

There's something very familiar about this book... the idea of a haunted house,and someone writing a book about their experiences is not new.
It's been done before,and it will be done again.
I was slightly irritated by our main character Maggie that she HAS to have answers once her father died... I think I'd have got them a whole lot sooner had it been me.
I enjoyed the book though,I like to be left guessing throughout the book ,is it real,are there ghosts,are you all just mad? Equally,I like it to be resolved by the end.
Some interesting plot twists and for me,some especially creepy moments involving wildlife.
The ending was something I wouldn't have guessed,but my all too practical side just wonders how many people can come and go through your house at night and you just don't notice????

Mostly,this was a fun read.
Was this review helpful?
well holy mother of mary this was a ROLLERCOASTER
from start to finish I was hooked. I adored every second of this and it was fast paced, full of suspense and was one thrill after another.

I love anything to do with the supernatural and this seemed to excel expectations. I thought the premise was interesting & the underlying mystery worked so well.

- amazing writing 
- fantastic plot 
- amazing characters

Was this review helpful?
After reading this book I will now have to go and read all his others as I really enjoyed it. A well written creepy thriller that had plenty of twists and turns to keep me hooked throughout. Definitely one to read. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.
Was this review helpful?
It’s been a long time since I’ve finished a book in a day but that’s exactly what I did! 
Audiobooks I can finish fairly quickly but physically reading a book can take me days at the minute...this one was started this morning and has just been finished at 9pm. 
What a rollercoaster! I was completely engaged throughout and I kept guessing what was going to happen right up until the last page! Brilliant.
I’m not usually a haunted house fan but this was written perfectly. It skips between the past - written in the form of a true story book, and the now which follows Maggie as she inherits her old home which her family fled when she was young.
I loved all the twists and turns and I had no idea where the story was going to finish. 
Was this review helpful?
This is such a good mystery, thriller, ghost story. With twists and turns that make it a fast page turner. To top it off the ending was satisfying and I didn’t guess it.
Was this review helpful?