Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

So, this was a fun book. Except, I’ve watched it, read it, and discussed it before – in the form of Amityville Horror or Haunting of the Hill House or any other horror-thriller that uses the jump scares old creepy ladies, young skeptic ladies and secrets-in-the-gothic-attic tropes.

Plot

Maggie Holt is the daughter of Ewan and Jess Holt, the three of whom lived in a large house called The Baneberry Hall before Maggie turned 5. Ewan Holt writes a book called The House Of Horrors that is about how their family left the Baneberry Hall in the dead of the night, keeping everything they owned intact within the walls of the house because it was haunted. This happened only 20 days after they moved into the house. Maggie inherits this house after her father dies, who categorically tells her to not go there because it is unsafe for her. But, what’s a horror without the protagonist going to a place they are forbidden to go to because “the truth is out there”. Ugh.

This book would have done better as a thriller on screen as the visuals in here are quite jump-scary in an entertain-you-on-a-1045th-tv-show-episode kinda way. Honestly, I found the middle of the book boring. The start did show some promise but it quickly turned into a bore-fest in the middle. It reminds you of a gothic mansion with creaking windows and apparent paranormal happenings within its vicinity – complete with shadowy figures. I mean, seriously I have read horror, and for a book that promised me horror I did not get a single goosebump. There was ofcourse the mystery of it all, the need to know what happened exactly all those years ago and why the family fled a la Amityville.

All is not lost

But, not all is disappointing. I still like the eerie feel the book builds. This was my first Riley Sager book, and I might not want to pick anything else up by this author for a while. Yes, this was a thriller and it delivered on that front. I really did not see that end coming. It was like building a dozen theories in the head only for you to go wrong in the end and it was Mrs Carver who gave the most amount of creeps by the time the book ended.

The feel of a haunted mansion is on point, which does get cliched but I love a good horror. I would not call this the best horror I have read, but it’s good nonetheless. Being a thriller, it delivers. Being promised as a horror, this is a slightly underwhelming book.

Characters in here are not half-baked, something I like in a book. Their motives are pretty clear – each one determined on what needs to be done. The angle of murder makes it creepy, but the book could have been tad shorter to get to the point already. The last 20 pages however, are a major surprise. You’ll have to read it to know.

This is a book for crime lovers. Not so much for horror junkies. And if nothing, the book is most definitely entertaining. I, for one, enjoyed it enough to want to go back and rewatch Amityville Horror or something similar. For this one, don’t go by my word. It’s a one time read for sure (for me) but who knows, Riley Sager might just become your next favourite author!

Rating: 3/5

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