Book Review: Home Before Dark

HOME BEFORE DARK | Riley Sager
06.30.2020 | Dutton Books
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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Maggie Holt has lived for twenty-five years in the shadow of Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods that she used to call home. She lived there for only three weeks with her parents until they ended up fleeing in the dead of the night. These three weeks went on to be documented by her father, Ewan, in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors that would later become a phenomenon. The tale of Maggie’s experience in Baneberry Hall rivals that of famous stories such as Amityville in popularity and skepticism. Maggie is the biggest skeptic of all and has for years insisted that the story is lies. She cannot remember anything that happened during that time. Now that she has been reunited with Baneberry Hall, Maggie is determined to find the truth.

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HOME BEFORE DARK is a clever reimagining of the haunted house stories that we have come to know and love over the years. While this isn’t billed as an inspired work, it is clear famous works such as THE HAUNTING of HILL HOUSE and THE AMITYVILLE HORROR have influenced this story. While for some this may be a put off, I found it to be a nostalgic nod to those works.

Haunted house stories are easily one of my most loved subjects to read about and it is clear from page one that Baneberry Hall has more than one secret hiding up it’s sleeve. As the reader journeys through this story the house becomes more and more vivid with glimpses of the past and present bringing the building to life. I really enjoyed all of the small details, such as the chandelier that graces the cover and even the paint colors. 

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As if the setting wasn’t enough to make this one predestined to be a winner for me, Sager went ahead and made it structured as a book within a book. I have found so many gems (and a few duds) written in this style that it has become something I love discovering. I was swept away in the present day story with Maggie, but also beyond intrigued by the passages from House of Horrors. 

I enjoyed the methodical and at times slower pacing mixed with heart pounding moments that make up HOME BEFORE DARK. There were some scenes that made me cringe and check behind my shoulder that simply made the story that much better. This one is perfect for fans of haunted houses and creepy stories!


This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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