Book Review: Home Before Dark

I’ll be honest. My first introduction to Riley Sager was his newest release Survive The Night which I found lacking in many ways. I was a bit skeptical about reading any of his other books, but I decided to check out Home Before Dark from my local library.


What was it like? Living in that house.

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 toMaggie’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.

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A house with a past? Possibly haunted? Left abandoned for twenty-five years. All the makings of a good ghost story.

Upon her father’s death, Maggie Holt inherits Baneberry Hall, a place she lived with her parents for twenty days. Maggie was only five when they fled the house in the middle of the night, so her memories there are vague. If not for a book her father wrote, she might night remember anything of it.

Ewan Holt’s book about the brief time they spent in the house became a best seller and the family was a media sensation. The pressure destroyed her parent’s marriage and over the years Maggie asked both of them if the book was true. She became convinced it wasn’t, even though she’s suffered from night terrors all her life.

Maggie’s plans to renovate and sell the house require her to return to Baneberry Hall, but her primary reason is to discover the truth about what happened. She soon learns her father made an annual pilgrimage there on the anniversary of their leaving. Maggie discovers more secrets about the house that “remembers.”

The book is written from two points of view—Maggie in the present day and her father’s account of what happened in “The Book.” There are a lot of strange happenings, such as ringing bells, a chandelier that mysteriously turns on, and mysterious figures seen at the edge of the woods.

This was definitely a page-turner and Sager kept me guessing right up to the end. One of the best ghost stories (without all the ghoul) that I’ve read in a long time.