Charles Stross, "Overtime"


Thursday, February 13, 2020

Review: HOME BEFORE DARK by Riley Sager

3 Stars

I was enamoured of Riley Sager 's first two novels,  FINAL GIRLS and THE LAST TIME I LIED. His third mystery, LOCK EVERY DOOR,  I've not yet read. The description for HOME BEFORE DARK really excited me, because I love a Haunting above all else. 

However: the pre-Prologue,  told from contemporary (adult) Maggie's point of view,  didn't set me up for the story. Now the Prologue, when Maggie was five and the family freshly moved into the unusual, if not quite, unique,  Baneberry House in a significantly rural region of New Hampshire: oh, yes. Bring It On.
Sigh: the author at some point decided to make this a two-era story, interweaving the events of 21 days, 25 years earlier, with the contemporary narrative: Adult all-business nothing-to-see-here Maggie Returns. That could work, might work, has worked.  But not here, and not for me. Think I'll reread this book, but differently,  reading all the  past-tense events as one smooth flowing narrative, then all the "now" sections as a narrative.  This back-forward-back-forward just disjoints my grasp of the narrative (and has cost the novel a Star).

Something else that gripes me about HOME BEFORE DARK is how extensively skeptical adult Maggie is.  Perhaps psychologically  this is a logical result of "slamming the door" on unwanted or terrifying belief. But it's not scientific method: when confronted with the seemingly inexplicable,  one doesn't leap off the opposite deep end trying to explain it away.  Sherlock wouldn't like that. 

Finally,  the Denouement: again, sigh. Maybe I'm simply too old and locked into my preferred patterns.  I want to shake the characters senseless,  screaming bansee-like, "Can't you fools see?"

So in conclusion,  I'm sorry,  but the best I can give is not even 3.5. 3 stars.

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