Book Reviews

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager | Book Review

Genre: Horror, Thriller
Publication: Dutton Books
No. of Pages: 384
Book Type: Standalone
My Rating: 4/5
Trigger Warning: Paranormal activities, Murder, Animal Cruelty.

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.

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? 

Maggie Holt: Protagonist
Ewan & Jess: Maggie’s Parents.
Elsa: Housekeeper
Martha Carver: Previous Owner of Baneberry Hall.

On the Plot:

The plot was authentic and surreal. I enjoyed the strange and mysterious vibes of the haunted house described in the book. It was a treat to my horror and thriller craving mind to read Sager’s work. Sager is really a master mind at plotting vivid horror themes. Every tiny detail mentioned in the book was so intricate and was beautifully woven into the whole tapestry. I was genuinely scared the entire time and I never anticipated (which by the way I am extremely good at) what was going to happen.

Writing & Theme

I was in love with the Gothic vibes this book gave me. I never had a hard time imagining every thing mentioned in the book. All the imagery in the book were too visual and so creepy. Well done Mr. Sager!
The book had 2 POVs: Ewan’s and Maggie’s.
To be honest I liked Ewan’s POV a bit better than Maggie’s. I loved the way every thing just fell into place. The book seemed spontaneous and with no loop holes. I enjoyed every chapter, and all of them were thrilling. I did not feel any chapter to be monotonous or boring. I was on my toes all the time. I could not read the book at night because I felt the Horror percentage was a bit too high and I could not get along with it after sundown. LOL.
However, I would have loved if the ending was a bit different.


The main protagonist was a strong, spirited female who was really stubborn. She did not leave room for anything, jumped straight to the conclusion. She was a really difficult character to read. I felt her to be a bit too badass for a Horror setting. However, I was happy she got to the suspense in the end and clarified the things out for her own benefit. I enjoyed the Sheriff who was very level headed and logical. I did not like the way Maggie’s mother() tried to keep the entire truth from Maggie and under.

Horror & Mystery

The entire book gave me goosebumps. It gave me major Haunting of the Bly Manor vibes. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Baneberry Hall (it felt like I was there). I could have used a better ending though. I felt the climax could have used some more Horror elements and the book could have been all about what Ewan wrote. I was too much into his story. Let me tell you – Ewan (Maggie’s dad) was a better horror writer than Riley Sager.


Thrilling adventure, amazing plot twists and eerie Gothic setup. This book will take you on a ride for a mind boggling expereince.
Read if you love: Gothic books, are new to the world of horror books, have an appetite for thriller stories.

  • Grief is tricky like that. It can lie low for hours, long enough for magical thinking to take hold. Then, when you’re good and vulnerable, it will leap out at you like a fun-house skeleton, and all the pain you thought was gone comes roaring back.
  • When you stare into the abyss, the abyss also stares into you.
  • People don’t lie unless they’re hiding something.
  • …perception is a tricky thing. When people think of you a certain way, it’s almost impossible to put that genie back in the bottle.
  • When the world considers someone a monster, people treat them like one, and it isn’t long before that person starts to believe it as well.
  • …make a handprint on the wall. That way you’ll always be apart of this place.

4 thoughts on “Home Before Dark by Riley Sager | Book Review

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