Home Before Dark
Riley Sager
Dutton (June 30, 2020)
Reviewed by Carson Buckingham

The odd thing about this book is that title doesn’t really anything to do with the story. This is the first time I’ve ever come across a book that was so bewilderingly mistitled.

But that is the only area where the author slightly slipped up and is totally forgivable, because this is one great horror novel.

We meet the Holt family, who just purchased Baneberry Hall—a huge Victorian pile with a dark reputation. Jessica Holt is a teacher and Ewan Holt is a writer who could really use a break. Maggie is their five-year-old daughter. Ewan researches the background of the house and the deeper he goes, the more immersed in Baneberry Hall’s terrifying past he becomes. The family spends a grand total of twenty days in the house before bolting in the middle of the night. So, he writes a book, the title of which is House of Horrors, but just generally referred to as the Book. It is a runaway best-seller starring his daughter Maggie, who apparently endured such psychological trauma that recalling her time at the Hall is later impossible—she remembers nothing about it but is convinced her parents have been lying to her for her entire life.

When her father dies and leaves her Baneberry Hall (which she thought they’d sold long ago), she is determined to get to the bottom of the unanswered questions that have plagued her life and will not stop until she does.

From the jump, readers will recognize a superficial similarity with The Amityville Horror in that:  family buys house, house is haunted, terrified family flees, tells their story, rakes in the cash. But where the Lutz family swore their story was the truth, in House of Horrors though the Holt family tells the world the Book that Ewan Holt writes about the Baneberry Hall hauntings is the truth, they tell their daughter that it was made up—a lie.  But was it?  Really?

Home Before Dark has more twists and turns than a carnival Funhouse. Just when you think you may have it figured out, Riley Sager says, “Oh, no you don’t!” He provides not one, not two, but many red herrings, dead ends, and subtle clues that kept me engaged until the very last page—it’s that intense.

5 out of 5 stars. Unputdownable!

About Carson Buckingham

Professionally, Carson Buckingham has made her way in life doing all manner of things, most of which involve arson. She is currently employed as a freelance writer on a work release program. In her spare time, she studies forensics, in hopes of applying her new knowledge to eluding the authorities more effectively the next time. She is originally from Connecticut, but now resides in Kentucky—and Connecticut is glad to be rid of her.