I’m a big fan of all things horror. My comfort movie nights feature horror flicks (preferably the jumpscare kind, but I’ll watch the gory ones too). Ghost stories give me the most delicious goosebumps. But with horror books, I’ve come to be disappointed a lot. There’s only a handful of books that promised nightmares but disappointed me big time. But not this one. Riley Sager’s Home Before Dark is creepy and nightmarish and perfect for horror geeks.
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 non-fiction book called House of Horrors…
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… 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.
The book alternates between Maggie’s point of view and chapters from her father’s book House of Horrors. Maggie is a skeptic who doesn’t believe in ghosts and is sure that everything her father wrote in his book is a lie. But the weird happenings at Baneberry Hall force her to question her belief.
The most interesting aspect of the story for me was how Maggie didn’t remember anything from her family’s original stay at Baneberry. That, to me, shouted trauma response and I was pretty sure something truly horrific happened for her to block out the memories entirely. The progression of the story only increased my feelings of dread about what might have happened to little Maggie. And that I think is why I truly liked the story – even the small things tied together for me.
I’m still unsure of some instances in the book – were they just coincidences or was there really some supernatural element at play in Baneberry? Or am I just reading too much into it?
Overall, I loved the book. It provided the perfect creepy reading experience that I looking for. The only thing that doesn’t make sense to me is the title of the book. Nowhere throughout the story does the title tie in. I need an explanation for this, Riley Sager!