Book Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

September 24, 2020 in Mystery & Thriller

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Autumn is here and I’m loving it already! One of my favourite things about the season is settling down with a great stack of spooky-ish books. It’s the perfect time for thrillers and books that are a little paranormal. And the book I’ll be reviewing today is absolutely perfect for those seasonal vibes. That’s right, today I’m sharing my review of Home Before Dark by Riley Sager. It’s a haunted house thriller and the cover alone is immensely creepy. So yeah, make sure you add this to your autumn TBR if that kind of thing floats your boat.

Many thanks to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager - Book Review

Home Before Dark
by Riley Sager

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Date of Publication: 17th September 2020
Genre: Thriller/Horror
Format: eBook (402 pages)
Rating: ★★★★★

Content Warnings:

Murder, birth trauma, loss of a child, loss of a spouse, loss of a parent, grief, snakes, missing people, references to alcohol, references to the occult



Maggie Holt has just inherited a house from her late father. But not just any house, the infamously creepy house that her parents wrote a bestselling memoir about claiming that it was haunted.

Having grown up under the weight of her parents’ book, she’s determined to find out the truth. How much of the book is fact and how much is fiction? So she moves in with the intention of renovating and selling the property and as the number of truths within the book start piling up, Maggie has to confront the biggest question of all: was she really the victim of a haunting as a child?


My Review

I didn’t expect to enjoy this as much as I did. Why? Because I’m a big scaredy cat and the premise led me to believe that Home Before Dark would be scarier than it actually was. I’d even go so far as saying that this is more of a thriller than a horror novel. Even so, it’s a tense ride!

It’s oozing all the good stuff; foreboding, suspicious characters, jaw-dropping plot twists, gothic elements and plenty of suspense. While some of the chapters are sort of long, they never feel like they drag because the pacing and tension is executed flawlessly. It constantly propels you to keep reading. (Even if like me, your anxiety is begging you to stop.)

The style of alternating chapters between Maggie’s perspective and her parent’s book is a format I absolutely love. I read a story with a similar structure earlier on in the year (The Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter) and loved that as well. It’s a great way to build tension, feeding you clues as to what might happen next in the “real story”. Again, Sager really utilises this tool to deliver an exceptionally suspenseful book.

If you’re concerned that this book is going to creep you out, don’t be. It’s eerie and tense but not scary.


  • Strong + independent female MC
  • Confrontation of childhood trauma
  • Family drama
  • Paranormal elements
  • Kinda creepy

Read This If You…

  • Want to read something that’s not too scary but has paranormal elements
  • Love thrillers with a twist
  • Are looking for the perfect autumnal read

RELATED REVIEW: Survive the Night by Riley Sager (2021)

So there you have it, my review of Home Before Dark by Riley Sager. Again, I absolutely loved it and I do recommend it to anyone who likes their reading to be quite dark, paranormal or even gothic. It’s available now from all good book retailers so don’t miss out!

What are your spooky-ish book recommendations? Let me know in the comments below.


  • Stephanie @ Bookfever September 24, 2020 at 1:25 pm

    I do love thrillers with a twist. In fact, I’m usually disappointed if they don’t have one. 😛

    • Hayley September 27, 2020 at 8:37 pm

      Haha you’re so right! Would be a pretty boring thriller without any twists!

  • Jodie | That Happy Reader September 24, 2020 at 2:58 pm

    Great review! I love thrillers and strong female characters. I will put this one on my TBR list!

    • Hayley September 27, 2020 at 8:40 pm

      Thanks Jodie, hope you enjoy it! 🙂

  • Heather September 24, 2020 at 9:42 pm

    I’m so pleased to hear this is good, it’s on my list! Thank for sharing your review!

    • Hayley September 27, 2020 at 9:02 pm

      Thanks Heather, hope you enjoy it! 🙂

  • Brooke Ressell September 25, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    Now that it’s getting colder, it’s the perfect time to read something creepy. I’m going to add this one to my list. It sounds like something I would enjoy. Thanks for the info!

    • Hayley September 27, 2020 at 9:28 pm

      Thank you so much Brooke! Hope you enjoy it. 🙂

  • Hannah September 25, 2020 at 8:12 pm

    This seems like an interesting read, might be something I could get into as well as I find fiction hard but there seems to be an element of non fiction to this which makes it interesting to me!! Thanks for writing an honest review on the book.

    • Hayley September 28, 2020 at 10:54 am

      Thanks Hannah! 🙂

  • Lucy September 25, 2020 at 9:05 pm

    This sounds like a gripping thriller Hayley, it sounds like quite a scary read and I’ve never read a paranormal book as I don’t think I’d be able to sleep at night after reading it! x

    Lucy |

    • Hayley September 28, 2020 at 10:56 am

      Haha I can relate to that! Luckily this one didn’t read as scary or paranormal as it looks so no sleepless nights for me! But I can understand wanting to avoid scary books because I do the same. 🙂

  • Jaya Avendel September 25, 2020 at 9:41 pm

    I am getting my fall vibes on and some creepiness fits right in with the rain going on outside, so I will be checking this book out! I love that it has a strong female lead character with confrontation of family and loss.
    Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Hayley September 28, 2020 at 10:56 am

      Thanks Jaya! Hope you enjoy it! 🙂

  • Melissa @ Always, Lissa September 25, 2020 at 9:55 pm

    Oh I have been wanting to read this and you made me so happy to hear that it’s a good read! I love thrillers that are creepy but not necessarily scary. I’ve heard really goof things about Riley Sager’s books in the past. Thank you for sharing!

    • Hayley September 28, 2020 at 10:58 am

      It’s so good! I had also heard great things about Sager’s books and this was the one I was least keen on jumping into (because I don’t mesh too well with scary books) but I loved it and will likely hunt down the backlist now too. Such a great book! 🙂

  • Alexis Farmer September 25, 2020 at 11:15 pm

    This definitely sounds right up my alley, gonna add it to the list!

    • Hayley September 28, 2020 at 10:58 am

      Thanks Alexis! 🙂

  • Cheyenne September 25, 2020 at 11:15 pm

    This book sounds up my alley! I’m going to add it to my list! Thanks for sharing.

    • Hayley September 28, 2020 at 10:59 am

      Thanks Cheyenne! 🙂

  • Lindsey September 26, 2020 at 10:43 am

    Ooh I love the sound of this! Like you, I’m a real scaredy cat and generally avoid anything that I think is going to creep me out, but this sounds like it stays the right side of that line! Great review.

    • Hayley September 27, 2020 at 9:31 pm

      It definitely does. There are a few shocks that would be like jump scares in a movie? But nothing more intense than that really. Looks and sounds scarier than it actually is! 🙂

  • lifestyleseason September 28, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    Great post! Thank you for sharing this review! It sounds like an amazing book to read this Autumn!

    • Hayley September 29, 2020 at 2:28 pm

      Thank you! 🙂

  • Ellis James Designs September 29, 2020 at 9:09 am

    Thanks for the tws! You had me at jaw-dropping plot twists, might just check this out!

    • Hayley September 29, 2020 at 2:02 pm

      Thank you, hope you enjoy it if you do! 🙂

  • bournemouthgirl September 29, 2020 at 12:18 pm

    I haven’t heard of this book before, you have shared a great review.

    • Hayley September 29, 2020 at 1:50 pm

      Thank you! 🙂

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