Thursday, July 2, 2020

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Maggie Holt has never believed the stories about Baneberry Hall. After all, she lived through the supposed story that is the focus of her father's book, House of Horrors, and she has no memory of any of the things he wrote. Maggie has held a long simmering resentment against her parents and House of Horrors. In fact, she's certain the book was a lie meant simply to drum up attention and money. Money she certainly benefited from but attention she never wanted.

The story is that after just about three weeks, her family abandoned the house out of desperation, having been plagued by ghosts from the day they took up residence in the old home. And certainly the history of the house lends itself to haunting! But Maggie is convinced her father's story is blatantly untrue. Unfortunately she was never able to get him to reveal the truth and now it's too late.

She was surprised, however, to learn that her father had never sold the house. And that, as his sole heir, the house now belongs to her. Maggie plans to fix up the place and put it on the market to be done with it. But not before she learns what really happened all those years ago.  

Home Before Dark finds the adult Maggie Holt troubled and her relationship with her parents strained. Which is a shame because her father dies before she can even consider trying to mend that bond.

To his dying day, Maggie's father swore by the words he wrote in the book that made him famous. The book that purports to be the truth about why Maggie and her family fled a home they'd lived in for just under a month, leaving everything they owned behind and never to return. Or so Maggie thought. As it turns out, her father did return, once every year.

Chapters of her father's book are interspersed throughout the story, giving the reader something of a parallel view of the events at Baneberry Hall: Maggie's arrival somewhat coincides with her family's arrival in House of Horrors and Maggie's own experiences at the house are something of a mirror of her father's written experiences. It's intentional considering Maggie herself compares her experiences to those laid out in the book, which even causes her to begin doubting her steadfast conviction that the book isn't real.

Riley Sager's latest is a great twist on the classic haunted house tale. In fact, if each new release so far has been a play on classic horror films, Home Before Dark is definitely inspired by The Amityville Horror (which is mentioned in the book). As a huge fan of horror, I appreciate all of the nods towards the classics but also enjoy the fact that Sager puts his own stamp on the classic tropes.

Order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

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