The Day Before You Came – by Matthew Cash – Book Review


When Philippa spots the bungalow it’s love at first sight —and she is filled with the sense of safety and warmth whenever she’s there. She’s not a believer in the supernatural, unlike her best friend, Niamh, but she has to admit there is a energy about the bungalow, a vibrancy that fills her with joy.

Her boyfriend, Ryan, is an angry waste of space, a compulsive liar and petty criminal. He’s not frightened of anything – living or dead.

Roger and Vera have been married for years. Everything is a slog, everything is a burden, to Roger, anyway. Having to spend the majority of his life living with his elderly mother-in-law is enough to make anyone bitter.
Vera puts up with her husband even though he doesn’t hear the strange noises in the house.
The everyday tedium continues until Roger devises a way to get rid of his mother-in-law.

Dark bleetings, everyone!

We start with Roger and Vera, and older married couple whose relationship is… difficult. Roger is horrible, and Vera is a woman that comes from a generation that typically did not divorce their spouses. After both of them pass, the story focuses on Niamh and her relationship with Ryan, and Niamh’s best friend, Philippa. Niamh moves into Vera and Roger’s old house, but it seems that the former inhabitants might still be attached to their property.

The first thing I’d like to discuss is the characters because Cash is so good at writing them. They’re layered, complex people – every single one of them. While (in particular instances) the difference between right and wrong is not grey, but a black or white objective reality, Cash still manages to portray events and interactions with nuance and sincerity. I completely detested Roger, but I understood him. But I hated him. I mean… I really hated that guy. But he was nothing compared to Ryan.

I think Ryan might be the single most detestable character I have ever encountered in fiction. There’s something really disturbing about reading a character who is proficient in emotional abuse, and being reminded of relationships from your own history. I can’t say that connecting with the protagonist over something like this is exactly joyful to read, but I very much appreciated how it was handled in the narrative. All too often, I read these “bad” characters that are depicted as monsters (which they are), but without the humanity. The human part of these kinds of villains are what makes them truly terrifying, because despite having things with the rest of us, they still behave the way they do. Cash really nails his depictions of these people, and not just them, but those on the receiving end of their malice.

Once again, all too often, I read characters who fall victim to abuse, and they’re handled badly. Even as someone who’s been on the receiving end of it, it can be so hard to accurately portray the inner monologue of someone in this position. Cash handles this with honesty, understanding, and grace.

The story itself is great – a real twisting and merging of people and the setting, with parallels and connections that weave so wonderfully together by the end. It’s well-plotted, and well-paced, and I never wanted to put it down,

My only criticism really is that towards the end, there’s what I’d regard as somewhat of a feminist rant. Imbalance of power in a couple dynamic is a theme here, and in general, I’m actually quite partial to a feminist rant. However, it was a little much here for me – it might have been the dialogue itself, or perhaps how long it went on for, I’m unsure. In any case, it did cross over into cringe-inducing for me for a minute. It reminded me of Avengers: End Game when they line up all the female Marvel heroes just to show us that it’s not all dudes. However, the point of the scene is clearly well-intentioned and was befitting of the characters, so I certainly wouldn’t cite this as a negative aspect, more just a pet-peeve.

Overall, this is a great story and the horror aspects were spooky and frightening. The writing is wonderful. I’d recommend this to ghost story fans, and people who enjoy character studies. If you’d like your own copy, you can find it linked below:


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