Book Reviews by Mae Clair: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager #ghostficton #ghostsuspense @riley_Sager

Last week I reviewed Riley Sager’s Survive the Night, which released yesterday. Home Before Dark has been on my Kindle for some time, buried among the books I keep buying. When I realized I hadn’t read it yet, I set out to correct the oversight immediately. This one is another “Wow! Just Wow!”


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?

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 toMaggie’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.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

I’ve come to realize the great thing about a Riley Sager book is that they’re all so different. This time around, he delivers a good old-fashioned ghost story. No gore or horror, just plenty of eerie happenings that deliver goose bumps, shivers and chills.

Maggie Holt has inherited Baneberry Hall, a house she and her parents fled in terror in the middle of the night when Maggie was five years old. She has no memory of the supernatural events that occurred in the house, but thanks to a best-selling nonfiction book her father wrote (think Amityville Horror) the whole world knows what took place during the twenty days her family lived there. Her life has been defined by “the Book” as she has come to think of it. Neither parent will talk about that time. Now, with the passing of her father, Baneberry Hall comes to her. The house has been uninhabited since the night her family fled, leaving all of their belongings behind. 

Maggie plans to renovate the house and sell it, but in the process, she is determined to discover what really happened during those twenty days and nights depicted in the Book. 

The story alternates chapters between Maggie’s POV in the present and chapters from the Book. The latter are told in her father’s POV and cover the supernatural happenings at Baneberry Hall.

Once again, Sager delivers a twisty page-turner. It’s difficult to say much about this one without giving away spoilers. I will mention that I loved the creepy ringing of room bells, the chandelier in the Indigo Room, and the session with the Ouija board. The ghosts—Mister Shadow and Miss Pennyface—are the definition of eerie, and the history of the families that occupied the house previously is played for massive goose bumps.

Numerous twists and turns near the end had me trying to pick up my jaw from the floor. As soon as I thought I was on firm footing, Sager yanked the proverbial rug out from under me again. This is mind-blowing storytelling at its best, especially if you are a fan of ghost stories that twist like a corkscrew and prickle your skin. Another stand out read from a stand out author!

53 thoughts on “Book Reviews by Mae Clair: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager #ghostficton #ghostsuspense @riley_Sager

    • Priscilla, I LOVED it.
      It’s different than anything I’ve read before and very twisty, especially at the end. I’m a huge fan of Sager’s writing, and once again, he struck gold with this one.


  1. How have I missed this one? Haunted houses are some of my favorites – probably since I read The Amityville Horror. Or maybe watched Scooby-Doo. I can’t remember. I’ve got to add this to my overwhelming TBR. Thanks for the rec, Mae!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was such a Scooby Doo fan, Teri. I couldn’t wait for the sight of the Mystery Machine on Saturday mornings. And if you liked the Amityville Horror (I tried to read it but couldn’t….scared me too much), you’ll appreciate the tip of the hat to that story in this book..

      Liked by 1 person

    • This one was right up there with Survive the Night, Kim (at least for me). I do remember seeing you review it, and knew I had to have it (I buy everything he writes). Then somehow it got buried. Arrrgh!! 🙂

      I’m glad you bought Survive the Night. I loved it so much I bought a Kindle copy even after having read it on NG!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not a fan of gore but ghost stories I can do. They scare the 💩 out of me but I still like them. This one does have me intrigued! I’m looking forward to hearing him talk about his books during the virtual event ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is zero gore in this story, Tessa, just plenty of goosebumps–along with lots of twists at the end. I think you’d like it. 🙂

      I have the virtual event marked on two different calendars so I don’t miss it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds frightening, and the cover makes it even so. There are a lot of books out now where they blend present-past in the storyline. I usually find those difficult to follow but this one didn’t seem to be any problem for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This sounds like a great read, Mae. The dual pov sounds interesting and I love it that “the rug got pulled out” from beneath you. Can’t resist those kinds of stories. There are so many great books I want to read this summer. Yikes. Thanks for the recommendation. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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