Sunday, 5 July 2020

Book Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager.


Book: Home Before Dark

Author: Riley Sager

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Pages: 400

Read On: Kindle

How Long it Took Me To Read: 2 days

Plot Summary: 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. 

Alternating between Maggie’s uneasy homecoming and chapters from her father’s book, Home Before Dark is the story of a house with long-buried secrets and a woman’s quest to uncover them—even if the truth is far more terrifying than any haunting.


Things I Liked: 

1. The premise had me at Hello! I mean, come on, a haunted house, a famous book written about it, lies and a woman back to figure things out! HIT ME UP! Plus, I've enjoyed 2 out of 3 of the author's previous works. So, picking this book up was a no brainer!

2. This book is a not-so-subtle hat-tip to the Amityville Horror movie franchise/ true story, which made it even more interesting to me! If you don't know about the Amityville case, then do Google it before you read this book, you'll find it quite interesting! The constant pull-push between was the house really haunted? Or did the family make it up to make a quick buck? Who is telling the truth? All of that dynamic is very interesting and is really nicely captured in this book as well. Maggie is almost 100% convinced that the events in her dad's book are all lies. She doesn't remember the trauma or the haunting outlined in her father's best selling book. So, her trying to reconcile what she thinks she remembers with what is written in her dad's book is an interesting journey.

3. The writing is good. It is evocative yet fast-paced and there is never a dull moment in the book!

4. The narrative switches between Maggie's present day efforts to renovate Baneberry Hall and her trying to piece together the events of the 20 days that her family lived in the mansion and the chapters of the book- The House of Horrors- written by her dad, which is supposed to be a "true story"/ factual account of the same twenty days. So, on the one hand, you have a story that's rich in horror/ supernatural elements and another story (Maggie's present day journey), which is more of a classic thriller/ whodunnit saga. Both of these together make the book gripping and unputdownable. If you love horror as a genre or crime/ thrillers as a genre, then this book is for you!

5. There are multiple red herrings in this book. There are loads of questions on which the book keeps you guessing, such as:
         > Is there a ghost? Who is this ghost? Is it more than one ghost?
         > Is it a ghost plus a human behind all of the events mentioned in the book? Who is the human?
         > Is it just a human? Does that fully explain all the happenings in the book?


Things I Didn't Like: 

1. In all of Riley Sager's books, there seems to be a common thread of eventual disappointment. It's like this- the ride and journey that the book takes you on is, usually, top notch. It keeps you engaged, interested, keeps you at the edge of your seat and sometimes even scares you quite a bit. However, the destination, the big reveal, always leaves a lot to be desired and is a tad disappointing! Don't want the spoil the book by giving more details, but a lot of times in books with a similar premise, it boils down to just communicating with one's parents to resolve the situation! The author ends up deploying all sorts of convoluted nonsense to make the book's premise work by making Maggie's parents absolutely refusing to tell her about the truth of the 20 days that they spent at Baneberry Hall.

2. The ending is a bit 'meh'.

Rating: 3.5/5 
Purely for the journey, the unputdownability of the book and the Amityville vibes! 


Saturday, 4 July 2020

Weekend Reads: The Miseducation of Cameron Post & Home Before Dark by Riley Sager.

Hello! 

Do weekends really even matter anymore? 
I woke up yesterday convinced it was Saturday, only to find out it was only Friday. 
Eh.
Life lately..I guess. 

I had a very slow reading month in June, so in July all I want to do is read. 
Reading has been slow all lockdown long, which is sad because I thought all I'd do is read. But I've had a hard time focussing on things, especially books. I am doing better re-reading old favourites or watching films or TV shows. 

I started July with two books that I am so excited to be reading. 
So let's talk about that...


The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth: I started reading this on the last day of June, a way to end Pride Month by reading a book about a young girl in Montana, who is sent to a camp specialising in Conversion Therapy. A girl dealing with not just the loss of her parents, but also trying to figure out her sexuality and how she can be true to herself in a world that wants her to be something else. I am a little bit in..like 75 odd pages and I see why people love this book so much and why it comes with such high praise. It's moving, beautiful and important. A book perfect for Pride Month or otherwise. 
Once I finish the book, I am curious to check out the film adaptation too. 

I did however take a break from it because one of my most anticipated books of the year released on July 1st and I absolutely haddddddd to read it. 


Home Before Dark by Riley Sager: Oh my God!!! 
Amityville meets family secrets and ghosts and spooks! 
Hit Me Up! 
I've wanted to read this book since I first heard about it a couple of months ago. 
I have read everything Riley Sager has ever written and 2/3 of his books made me all kinds of happy. 

Final Girls, his first book, wasn't my favourite. It is also one I read last. 

Lock Every Door is brilliant and I remember reading it in one sitting and being utterly unable to put it down. 
I reviewed it HERE. 

The Last Time I Lied was amazing too. Camp, friendships and secrets and good twists. 
Seriously, I cannot recommend them enough. So obviously, I absolutely had to read this book too. 
I reviewed this one too, you can find it HERE

Plot Summary: 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. 

Alternating between Maggie’s uneasy homecoming and chapters from her father’s book, Home Before Dark is the story of a house with long-buried secrets and a woman’s quest to uncover them—even if the truth is far more terrifying than any haunting.

Doesn't it sound amazing?! 

My sister and I are buddy reading it and we are both completely invested in this world and it's people. 
The book is fast paced, scary enough and slips easily between the past and present. 
It is also perfect reading material for this rainy weekend. 
And even though, I am pretty sure I might have guessed the twist in the book..I am still enjoying the ride. 


What are you reading this weekend? 
Happy Reading Guys. 
Hope this weekend is a good one. 
:) 


Friday, 3 July 2020

Friday Favourites: Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix



If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you'll know that my sister and I, we, love crime/ mystery/ thriller as a genre. Not only do we read a lot of crime/thriller books, but we also listen to several popular true crime podcasts. So, it was a no-brainer when we read that Unsolved Mysteries, a popular true crime investigative documentary style show, is being revived on Netflix this month! We couldn't wait to watch it!

Long story short, we binged all six episodes quite rapidly and we LOVED it! Here's why we think you'll love it too!

1. The Cases: The cases featured in this Volume/ Season of the show (yes! There is hope that we'll get another volume/ season eventually!) were varied, mysterious, puzzling and gripping! They ranged from missing persons to homicide to hate crimes to even some paranormal activities and each case will make you wonder how it happened and, in some cases, who the perpetrator is and how he/ she managed to get away with it! The cases are not restricted to the US alone, we also have a case based in Nantes, France. It also makes you, cynically, realise the that justice system is messed up everywhere! Where somethings that are clear as the day or could be damning evidence are inadmissible in court! Be prepared for long discussions with friends and also going down the rabbit hole for each of these cases on Reddit! *grin*

2. The Treatment: The series is extremely well-made! It is shot in documentary style and we get to meet the family and friends of the victims, who not only narrate the events leading to and after the crime, but also help in bringing the victim alive, which helps build empathy towards them, urging people to send in tips and information, if they have any, to the show's website or to the relevant investigative authorities. We recommend that you go check out the Reddit threads for some of these cases, there are lots of good theories!

3. The Mysteries: Each of the cases represented a truly baffling mystery! Take the first episode, for instance, a young man rushes out of his house in flip-flops on receiving a phone call. He doesn't return home, but when his body is found, everyone involved with the case is perplexed about how his body got to that place! Or take, for instance, the disappearance of Patrice Endres, which boils down to a 13 minute period! Each of these cases will make you wonder how so and such disappeared and how the perpetrator did what they did! In some cases, you think you know for sure who the perp is, but you'll still be left wondering the same things..

Rating: 5/5 

We highly recommend the show and are sure that you'll find it very interesting and gripping if you enjoy crime or true crime as a genre!