“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.
Home Before Dark was a pretty underwhelming read and I was left a little disappointed. I had really high hopes for this book because of the hype caused by other book bloggers, however I just didn’t enjoy it.
There were a fair few creepy moments in this book that were quite promising, especially a scene involving a polaroid camera which was quite spooky. I also enjoyed the split between Maggie’s point of view when she returns to Baneberry Hall and chapters from the House of Horrors, the book her father wrote about their experience there. It made for quite an engaging outline and it was interesting to be able to compare her time in the house now to when she was younger.
The characters in this book were relatively forgettable and mundane. They didn’t have a lot of depth to them, especially Dane who seemed to have been aimlessly thrown in the book for the sake of it. Maggie herself was our protagonist and she was also quite a bland character. Everyone else was pretty forgettable and I didn’t really care for any of them. Her mother was a frustrating character who essentially hid a very large secret from her daughter and basically lied to her for most of her life. I would of liked to of learnt more about her father as the only real appearance from him was from his own point of view, in his own book, so it would of been interesting for Maggie to have more flashbacks so we could see her father from her own eyes, rather than the man he portrayed himself in the House of Horrors.
The book itself didn’t really feel like a horror to me. I actually guessed the ending about halfway through the book which was a little irritating, as I usually like having a twist or two thrown at me, but it was predictable and bland. The plot itself is very similar to the storyline in The Haunting of Hill House (TV show, not book) and it felt like rather lazy writing for such a promising plot. The ending as well was confusing, as it seemed to bounce between being a paranormal book to being a more realistic book, which seemed a little weird.
Overall I rated this book two stars. It wasn’t what I wanted it to be and I came away dissatisfied with the way it was executed. The few horror scenes that were in the book were all gripping and I would of liked to of seen more of that.