Review: Middle of the Night - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

In the latest jaw-dropping thriller from New York Times bestselling author Riley Sager, a man must contend with the long-ago disappearance of his childhood best friend—and the dark secrets lurking just beyond the safe confines of his picture-perfect neighborhood.

The worst thing to ever happen on Hemlock Circle occurred in Ethan Marsh’s backyard. One July night, ten-year-old Ethan and his best friend and neighbor, Billy, fell asleep in a tent set up on a manicured lawn in a quiet, quaint New Jersey cul-de-sac. In the morning, Ethan woke up alone. During the night, someone had sliced the tent open with a knife and taken Billy. He was never seen again.

Thirty years later, Ethan has reluctantly returned to his childhood home. Plagued by bad dreams and insomnia, he begins to notice strange things happening in the middle of the night. Someone seems to be roaming the cul-de-sac at odd hours, and signs of Billy’s presence keep appearing in Ethan’s backyard. Is someone playing a cruel prank? Or has Billy, long thought to be dead, somehow returned to Hemlock Circle?

The mysterious occurrences prompt Ethan to investigate what really happened that night, a quest that reunites him with former friends and neighbors and leads him into the woods that surround Hemlock Circle. Woods where Billy claimed ghosts roamed and where a mysterious institute does clandestine research on a crumbling estate.

The closer Ethan gets to the truth, the more he realizes that no place—be it quiet forest or suburban street—is completely safe. And that the past has a way of haunting the present.

Book Type:

Psychological Thriller

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Review: Middle of the Night
By Riley Sager

Review: Middle of the Night

In a haunting quest for closure, a man returns to the neighborhood of his youth to unravel the mystery of his childhood best friend’s disappearance.

One summer morning, ten-year-old Ethan Marsh woke up alone in a backyard tent in a serene New Jersey cul-de-sac. His best friend, Billy Barringer, had vanished—someone had sliced open the tent in the dead of night and taken Billy. Wracked with guilt and tormented by unanswered questions, Ethan eventually fled Hemlock Circle—the neighborhood forever marred by the tragedy.

Three decades later, Ethan reluctantly returns home after his parents relocate. Plagued by memories of that July night and surrounded by the same neighbors, he finds himself spiraling into the past. The events of that night remain a blank in his mind.

Sleepless and haunted by recurring nightmares, Ethan becomes convinced that someone—or something—is prowling the cul-de-sac. Garage lights flicker on, and he senses a presence lurking in the shadows. As imagination blurs with reality, Ethan becomes consumed by the notion that Billy is reaching out to reveal the truth of what transpired.

As Ethan delves deeper, he unearths long-buried secrets, his desperation for answers escalating to a fever pitch.

I absolutely loved this book. Riley Sager crafts a tense, menacing, atmospheric domestic thriller. The dichotomy between the seemingly idyllic ‘90s suburbia and its sinister, paranormal undertones creates a fascinating and nostalgic backdrop. The narrative evokes a chilling sense that this could be any neighborhood, where something so horrifying and unimaginable could occur.

As Ethan’s paranoia intensifies, I felt my own urgency build, desperate to uncover the truth. Twist after twist leads to a final, satisfying, and shocking revelation, demonstrating Sager’s masterful ability to maintain suspense until the very end. And while this is very much a thriller, I also loved that it felt like a coming-of-age story and an exploration of the aftermath of trauma.

Wonderfully creepy, surprisingly moving, and as always with a Sager novel, fun to read.

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