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BOOK REVIEW : HOME BEFORE DARK BY RILEY SAGER

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TITLE : Home Before Dark

AUTHOR : Riley Sager

GENRE : Mystery, Thriller, Horror

FR RATING : ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐(5 Stars)

DATE OF PUBLISHING : September 17th 2020

FR REVIEW

DISCLAIMER : 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. Last year I read Lock Every Door and had a good time reading it. I loved the author’s writing and was quite fascinated by his style of storytelling. This story was no different. I am also super excited about the arrival of my copy of this book from a book subscription box!! It was an alternate choice for another book, and I am so glad I picked this one.

The story follows Maggie Holt as she visits Baneberry Hall, a sprawling, gothic Victorian mansion, and finds herself wanting to uncover the secrets of the house. We also have her father’s version of the events that took place twenty-five years ago through the book he published. With the back and forth switching of chapters with the present time following Maggie and the content from her father’s book, the story combines the two narratives seamlessly. Her relationship with her father’s book is complicated. Maggie doesn’t believe her father’s version of the events and wants to find out the truth for herself. Her father’s book has brought more problems in her life. She hates to be an unwilling party and wants to stay clear of anything that ties her to her father’s book. Her lack of memory of the events that happened during their stay at Baneberry Hall raises more questions that are not answered by her family. When her father leaves her with the legacy of the book and the mansion itself, she vows to find the history surrounding the house. Strange incidents and unexplainable occurrences start to happen at the estate, making her question everything she has known her whole life. With each passing day, she is more convinced that not everything her father mentioned in the book is a lie. There is more truth than fiction in her father’s book.

The whole ambiance of the book is the perfect setting for horror. Some of the paranormal elements in the book within the book were brilliant. I did get scared at times and had a difficult time sleeping at night as well. To me, this proves the effectiveness of Riley’s smart storytelling abilities. The story sets the perfect mood for a spine-chilling story, and I found myself being terrified at the smallest sound. As you can see, I am a total wimp when it comes to horror, and for me, the scare-factor was 10/10. I don’t know about you, but for me, this book ticked every box for the feels of a horror/mystery/suspense book.

The writing is captivating and engaging, and I found myself engrossed in the book and the dual storylines. There is Maggie’s perspective that takes us through the present day. Her dad’s viewpoint and his version of events from the past are unveiled through his non-fiction book. Each pov brings something new with each chapter. The mystery element was fascinating, and I couldn’t tear myself away from the book even if I wanted to. I just couldn’t stop reading it. And the dual perspectives brought the right amount of tension, and it kept building higher as the story progressed. The buildup and the tension will make the reader want to know the truth behind the story her father spun. As I mentioned, this book is guaranteed to hook you in and will leave you hanging onto every word. The pacing was just perfect. I loved Ewan’s (Maggie’s dad) book/POV more than Maggie’s POV. Still, the story was unputdownable, and the eerie, ominous vibes only made the story more captivating.

The characters, both dead and alive, add to the mysterious and eerie feel 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 setting is atmospheric, and the writing so descriptive that it effortlessly sets the tone for a sinister and a terrifying story. Every single element had something to add to the already mysterious history of the house. Each character is bound to make you guess their motives. They all have some form of history with the house, and only Maggie’s is the one who doesn’t remember any of it. The plot-twists kept on coming my way, and I did not see them coming at times. There were some elements I thought I had figured out only to find that I had guessed wrong again. The characters and the situations will leave you hanging and keep guessing until the end. The smaller parts of the story all came together to form a brilliantly written suspenseful read from start to finish.

Overall, I had a good time reading the book. I did read the book only at night, and I have to say that this elevated the reading experience for me. Home Before Dark is a fantastic story that will make you a huge 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, and I highly recommend checking it out. This suspenseful read is guaranteed to make you hooked.

SYNOPSIS

In the latest thriller from New York Times bestseller Riley Sager, a woman 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?

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 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. 

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