A review by gracefulbooks
Home Before Dark, by Riley Sager

dark mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No


This book is about a young woman named Maggie whose whole life has been changed, altered, and greatly affected by a horror novel her father wrote years and years ago. Her father's tales that are sold as truth has always been a bane to Maggie's existence. The home that the story about stands to this day and its reputation has been tarnished as a result of the ghost story her father sold to the public. Maggie spent her whole life trying to get a straight answer from her parents about the story, whether it's true or not. But they dodge her questions every time and when her father passes away and leaves her the Baneberry estate she decides now is the best shot she'll ever have to figure out the truth behind the story. But she soon uncovers more than she ever intended to. 

So this is the first time Sager has EVER disappointed me with his books and I hope this isn't a continuous thing. But wow I don't know where to begin with this-but let me just say if you decide to read this book: DO NOT pick up the audiobook!!!

I think it honestly ruined the entire experience of this book for me. When you are reading a horror book you want to be scared by the audiobook. This audiobook was read aloud by Cady McClain & Jon Lindstrom. Now they did not do awful for reading a book but honestly, their narration was more for a contemporary novel not for a book that is supposed to give you the heebie-jeebies. They said the sound effects instead of making a noise that could intensify how creepy those random and sudden noises were-the imagery wasn't enough for me here and as a result, I felt only SLIGHTLY unsettled in about one scene in this book. But no more. That isn't how it should be with a book marketed as horror.

I have listened to The Turn of The Key by Ruth Ware on audiobook and the way the noises and sound effects were done on there created an eerie atmosphere. This book did not accomplish that and I'm wondering if I had read the physical one if I would've enjoyed it more.

I also felt really detached from the story-probably because I felt as though none of the characters really had personality. Especially our two main characters, Maggie & her father. I really was not a fan of either of them and as a result, found myself not really getting invested in the story.

I will say there are at least two redeeming qualities in this book and that is that the ending was pretty dang good. I loved the reveals and found myself caught off guard by them a little bit,
Spoiler though I predicted that Maggie was the killer at some point or that that would be a reveal at some point?
I think the ending is the only reason this didn't get a one star from me.

Also, I will say I like the alternating perspectives from one being excerpts from the book mentioned and from Maggie's current perspective. The intersecting of them was well done and super interesting and I greatly appreciated it. But those two things and the one scene that kind of made me uncomfortable are not enough to save this book.

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