Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

“Every house has a story. Ours is a ghost story. It’s also a lie. And now that yet another person has died within these walls, it’s finally time to tell the truth.”

Plot Summary

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.

Trigger Warnings: Child Death/ Murder/ Parent Death/ Terminal Illness/ Snakes/ Suicide/ Cancer/ Pedophilia

My Review

This was my first Riley Sager’s novel but I’m convinced. This is a proper haunted house story full of suspense and mystery. 

It follows the story of Maggie. When she was five-years-old, her parents bought a mansion in Vermont Woods. Twenty days later, they ran with only the clothes on their backs.

The events that happened in that house, inspired her father to write his bestselling non-fiction book called House of Horrors.

“You know there’s no such thing as ghosts, right?” I said. “You’re wrong.” Maggie slid deeper under the covers. “I’ve seen them.”

Now, twenty-five years later, Maggie returns to the house on work. She must renovate it in order to sell and also to prove to herself that all the stuff her father wrote is just a scary story, completely fictional.

With alternative chapters between the past (the book) and the present and many jump scares, Riley Sager truly captivated me through the story.

Maggie is set on proving it’s all fake. She loathes her father’s book that hurt her so much through her life. Jeopardised her relationships and marked as the little girl who was a victim of the house or a liar (even if she didn’t remember anything from that time).

“Few things in life are more disappointing than knowing your parents aren’t being honest with you.”

Don’t let yourself be fooled by the slow-paced beginning. As soon as she sets foot in the house, you’re in for a ride. This book reminded me a lot of The Haunting of Hill House, so if you’re a fan of that one, I believe you’ll really like this book.

As a big horror movies fan, I find it really hard to get scared while reading horror books so many scenes I believe were written to cause apprehension on the reader, didn’t really work on me but it was still a very good story that made conjure many scenarios on my mind in order to discover the true mystery behind the house events.

It’s a really good reading material and I surely recommend it.


“Twenty-five years ago, my family lived in a house named Baneberry Hall, situated just outside the village of Bartleby, Vermont. We moved in on June 26. We fled in the dead of night on July 15. Twenty days. That’s how long we lived in that house before we became too terrified to stay a minute longer.”

“When you stare into the abyss, the abyss also stares into you.”

“What I do recall is colored by what’s in the Book. Instead of memories, I have excerpts. It’s like looking at a photograph of a photograph. The framing is off. The colors are dulled. The image is slightly dark.”

PLOT: ★★★★
COVER: ★★★★

Did you enjoy this book?

Home Before Dark

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