Will I ever become a Riley Sager fan?
Last year I read my first Riley Sager book – «Lock Every Door» and, to be honest, I wasn’t impressed. The thriller genre is very competitive. There are so many incredible writers whose books I love and who never fail to surprise me with the crazy twists. So far I can’t say the same about Riley Sager.
Someone who is new to the mystery / thriller genre will appreciate his books much more than I have, and will probably be surprised by the twists and turns.
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 yet another take on the haunted house theme and I was expecting it to be atmospheric, full of incredible twists and reveals that would keep me on the edge of my seat, but at the same time to bring the ghost factor. And it did tick some of these boxes.
1 – Riley Sager likes to have multiple twists in his books and even though some of them I was able to predict very early, I still felt alright with having them confirmed.
A must-have for a successful thriller is the unpredictability, but there are only so many twists you can come up with before venturing into the world of unrealistic. After reading many thrillers during my high-school years and right before starting my blog, I rarely get surprised by the twists and tend to rely on other elements of the story to keep me engaged and interested.
So it wasn’t a surprise to me to be able to see where the plot was going right from the very beginning, but I still enjoyed it enough to keep reading. Also, Riley Sager likes to layer his twists, so there is not only one big plot reveal but multiple happening close together.
2 – Another thing I noticed that he does in his books is adding the paranormal element, which keeps us wondering whether the ending will have a logical explanation or a paranormal one and that on its own is a very powerful tool to keep his readers flipping the pages as quick as possible to find the answer to this question.
Between «Home Before Dark» and «Lock Every Door» I definitely enjoyed the first one more. In general, «Home Before Dark» felt a little bit more polished and elaborate, which was a big plus. Besides, who doesn’t love a good haunted house story?
3 – Yet another writing technique that I found myself enjoying a lot was the story inside the story. Just like the “then and now” technique, this one worked wonderfully and added the necessary layer to the plot. Each chapter we would jump from the book that Maggie’s father wrote about their time in the house (the past) to Maggie’s stay at the house (the present). I think what made it all so much more interesting was the fact that Maggie thought it was all lies, which in turn made us doubt its credibility as well.
Frankly, I don’t know if I will be reading more of Riley Sager books. The two ones I read so far has been very mediocre for me. I might read one more just to see if it surprises me.
Have you read any Riley Sager books? Which one of his books would you recommend?
Let’s chat in the comments below!