Page Count 416
Publication date September 2020
Publisher Hodder & Stoughton
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 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 Maggie’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 still be most likely to recommend Last Time I Lied.