I was very excited to read Riley Sager’s latest thriller, and this one did not disappoint. It was nearly impossible to put this book down. If it wasn’t for Lily’s insistence at getting fed exactly at 6am in the morning and 5pm at night, I would have completely ignored my daily routine to finish this novel.
Before I get into the full review, I would like to apologize for my absence. My university switched to online early in March, and with that switch came the loss of my job at the library. It’s been a struggle to deal with my depression during this time of isolation (especially when all of the cats in the house get very ill and need around the clock care), but I have finally gotten back on my feet and have been using this newfound free time to work even more on writing my first novel!
Warning: This review may contain spoilers…
Here is a little bit about the book:
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.
The main thing to note about this novel is the use of a book within a book, which is used to switch between Maggie Holt and her father. Maggie’s sections of the novel are spent trying to find out the truth of what happened the night her family fled the Baneberry Hall. Her father’s sections are told through a novel that he wrote about their time in the supposedly haunted house, titled House of Horrors. While her father’s tale is mostly fiction, there are sprinkles of truth that Maggie discovers when she returns to Baneberry Hall after the death of her father.
Ewan, Maggie’s father, narrates House of Horrors. Each spine-chilling event is then mirrored in some way in Maggie’s return to Baneberry Hall. I found this to be one of my favorite parts of the novel, because it showed how despite Maggie’s disdain for her father and the book he wrote, Maggie herself was much like her father. She too fell into the history of Baneberry Hall and found herself losing touch of reality.
I spent a lot of my childhood religiously reading all sorts of ghost stories, so I thoroughly enjoyed every chapter of House of Horrors. Maggie’s POV, on the other hand, took a more logical look at the so-called paranormal activity of Baneberry Hall. I myself do not believe in the supernatural, so I did enjoy everything being debunked. In order to not spoil major parts of the novel, I won’t be going into exact details of the mysteries being debunked.
While the ending was definitely a twist, I wasn’t very shocked by it like I was hoping. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ve read so many thrillers now and with the english classes I have been taking, I notice that I pay a lot more attention to details in the narrative. It was because of this that I was able to form some theories as I read and it also helped that I took notes whenever I read what I thought could be a clue as to how the book would end.
This is definitely a book I would recommend if you’re looking for a thriller that incorporates supernatural elements. I wouldn’t go into this book expecting any actual paranormal activities to take place, and my advice is the same with every thriller: everyone is a suspect, even the most minor of characters.
Here is my rating:
Thank you for reading this review! If you’ve read this novel too, feel free to tell me your thoughts in the comments! I enjoy seeing other’s points of views on what I have read.
I’ve got plenty more review on the way, so feel free to follow my blog to be notified about any new posts!