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.
How I Came Across the Book and the Author
I follow Crime By The Book on instagram and in her stories she mentioned a book club, Read With CBTB, and I wanted to join because I gave been following her for ages now (not in a stalkerish sort of way) and her recommendations have merit.
The Book Club has this one book a month that everyone reads and then discusses at the end of the month.
The book for July, as you must have guessed by now, was Home Before Dark.
This was my introduction to any work by Riley Sager.
What I thought of the Book
Listed as a Horror and a Thriller, the book gives on both counts.
It is the story of Maggie Holt on a journey to dismantle a book her father wrote years ago as she tries to deal with the loss of her father. Moving to the Haunted House, scene of crime (you will never know how apt that wording is until you read the book), her plan is to prove that there is indeed no such thing as ghosts and that it is just another old house with its many sounds as it settles every day and every night.
She meets people that she knows of as they have been in her father’s book but is not sure where to place them or how to peg them as there already exists a bias specially when she had long believed that like the events mentioned in her father’s books, the people therein too were fictitious.
It is a jolt to her system – and also her (non existent) belief in the paranormal – when things start happening the way her father had mentioned in his book all those years ago and she starts questioning everything. Everything that she knows and everything she has assumed about her parents till date.
Throw in a long unsolved case in all the creepiness going around and you have bone chiller at your hand.
Decidedly one of the best books I have read this year and I can’t thank Abby (from CBTB) enough for having introduced me to Riley Sager.
Now, I want to read his other three books as well but this one is hailed his best work yet which I have read first. But, I believe somewhere down the road, I will end up getting the first three and reading them as well.
From this point on, Sager goes to my list of Authors whose books I buy without even reading the synopsis.
You must have guessed this already but this one gets 5/5 from me.