Hi friends! This was my book selection for my January Book of the Month Box. It’s one of my favorite book subscription boxes because I get one book a month for the subscription price, but I can add up to two other books if any others strike my fancy. I’m not a Book of the Month affiliate or partner (I wish!), but you can sign up using my referral link here, if you’re interested.
Synopsis & Quick Thoughts
Home Before Dark is one of the latest novels from popular horror author Riley Sager. When Maggie Holt was little, she and her parents spent three dreadful weeks inside Baneberry Hall before fleeing in the dead of night. Now the topic of an infamous nonfiction, The House of Horrors, Maggie is used to the questions of ghosts and hauntings. When her father dies and leaves the estate to her, Maggie, a non-believer of her father’s tales, returns to Baneberry Hall to renovate and sell it.
Before I share my opinions on this book, I need to make the disclaimer that this book is getting more negative reviews because of its extremely similar content to The Haunting of Hill House, which, I haven’t seen or read (I know, I know), although it is on my list, so I can’t share my thoughts on that. I think this book was fine. I really enjoyed the Gothic atmosphere present during the scenes in Baneberry Hall, but other than that it was a very run-of-the-mill haunted house book. The end was pretty good, but it felt like it took too long to get there. I feel real meh about both the book and this review.
It’s a pretty safe bet that if a book incorporates Gothic themes, I’m going to enjoy it. And I did. The vibes this book gives off are pretty great, especially while Maggie spends time in Baneberry Hall. And I thought this book was pretty creepy! I wasn’t scared outright by any means but I tried to avoid reading this book right before bed, which is something I can’t say about a lot of books.
I also liked the twist/reveal at the end of the novel and the subsequent wild resolution. I wasn’t trying to figure out the twist, so I didn’t see it coming which I always find to be a lot of fun. The pacing at the end of the book was quick and captivating, and overall I really liked Sager’s prose and descriptions. Overall I think I’d categorize this book as a fun, basic horror romp that does what it’s supposed to do.
There are two main negatives to this book for me, and I really think I’ll only be able to speak on one of them. The first issue is the lackluster pacing for the first 75% of the novel; I can appreciate a good slow burn, but at times I felt like it was a tad too slow and repetitive. I still managed to read this book pretty quickly, but I really had to push through in some sections which definitely dampened my enjoyment.
The other, and perhaps more serious issue with Home Before Dark, is the fact that, through other reviews I’ve read and watched of this book, it’s pretty clearly a Hill House copycat. And, uh, that sucks. To the point where I’d say that if you’ve seen or read The Haunting of Hill House already, I’d probably pass over this book unless you loved the story so much that you want to read a book with an incredibly similar plot. I can’t speak to the similarities because I haven’t consumed the other media yet, but I always find it to be disappointing when there’s a lack of originality in writing. Sigh.
Rating & Final Thoughts
I’m going to give Home Before Dark a 3.5 out of 5 stars. I could honestly see this book being a 4 out of 5 for me but the copycat accusations and similar plotline knock it down half a star for me. Despite that, I wouldn’t say it’s a bad story by any means, maybe just not the most original. I’d gauge your interest in this book and your choice to buy it or not off of your enjoyment of the classic haunted house storyline.
Buy Home Before Dark by Riley Sager here.*
*as a reminder, I am an Amazon affiliate and make a small commission off of purchases made using my link. If you decide to buy this book and support my blog and passion, thank you so much! I can’t explain how much it means to me.