Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
Dutton Books | June 30, 2020
Home Before Dark was scary.
So far all the books I’ve read by Riley Sager have creeped me out, but Home Before Dark played on some of my worst fears. I tend to read a lot before going to sleep, and while I’m reading my husband tries to sleep. Not that night. I kept waking him up to . I thought, for the first time, a book was going to give me nightmares.
That’s when you know you’re reading an author who can write!
I also realized something else while I was inhaling this book. Riley Sager has a really powerful way of weaving fear with sadness in each book. Sure, Home Before Dark was full of great twists and unexpected turns, but it was the sense of melancholy threaded through the fear that sets him apart from other authors in the genre.
Riley Sager also tells two stories in one. In previous books there was a past present story, and in a sense this one was the same format. However, it was also the present day story, alongside chapters from Maggie’s father’s book, House of Horrors. Both halves were equally good, but now I wish Mr. Sager would just write House of Horrors anyway, because I want to read the whole thing! That’s where (I thought) most of the scares were!
There was a downside though.
For the first time, I felt like the secondary characters were flat. Maggie’s father was portrayed wonderfully, but with chapters from his perspective (House of Horror chapters) it was easy for us as the reader to care for him. In order for us to feel the same way about all of them, they would have needed a lot more fleshing out. For instance, Maggie’s mother. She was a very blah character. If either Maggie or her father had spent more time talking about her, maybe I would care more. She’s just one example. I could list more.
In fact, I think the biggest disappointment was in the disposal of the male character. It’s becoming rather obvious that when Riley Sager introduces a male character, we shouldn’t get our hopes up for any kind of real investment. I’m not even talking about romance. How about just a true friendship? Or siblings? Or anything that’s more than a plot device?
It’s so bad I can’t even remember the characters name this time. I even went searching in other reviews, and nobody says his name. I found one review that called him “the contractor with the hot bod”. Look, I know we’re all about the woman power these days, but can’t women be powerful alongside male companionship?
That’s my biggest complaint. I would love to see Riley actually tackle a male friendship in a healthy way. The romance reader in me would love it to be romantic, but I’d also love siblings or friendly rivals or anything that depicts our female character in a healthy relationship with a male character.
Please. I’m begging.