In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant, whole trees, and is set on a huge estate overlooking Puget Sound. Trevor’s bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch Grandpa Samuel—who is flickering in and out of dementia—to a graduated living facility, sell off the house and property for development into “tract housing for millionaires,” divide up the profits, and live happily ever after.
But Trevor soon discovers there’s someone else living in Riddell House: a ghost with an agenda of his own. For while the land holds tremendous value, it is also burdened by the final wishes of the family patriarch, Elijah, who mandated it be allowed to return to untamed forestland as a penance for the millions of trees harvested over the decades by the Riddell Timber company. The ghost will not rest until Elijah’s wish is fulfilled, and Trevor’s willingness to face the past holds the key to his family’s future.
A Sudden Light is a rich, atmospheric work that is at once a multigenerational family saga, a historical novel, a ghost story, and the story of a contemporary family’s struggle to connect with each other. A tribute to the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, it reflects Garth Stein’s outsized capacity for empathy and keen understanding of human motivation, and his rare ability to see the unseen: the universal threads that connect us all.
ebook, 400 pages
Published August 28th 2014 by Simon & Schuster UK
ebook provided via publisher via netgalley
*** (I liked it)Most reviews I've read for this book usually starts the same. Everyone loved The Art of Racing in the Rain and looked forward to more of Garth Stein. So that is exactly the case here. I didn't read a lot of the synopis, just enough to know it's about an old house, mysterious deaths, ghost and a past. That's my kinda book!
Whether my expectations were too high, but I struggled somewhat here. Trevor is a likeable character, he begins his story in current day in his 30's, then narrates at 14 back in 1994. Then it will jump to 1910 or earlier. I didn't mind the moving about, it was the method that was disjointed at times.
Some of the other characters I struggled with. Serena was creepy and just weird, if it was the authors intent to make her that way, he did a good job.
Don't get me wrong, I didn't dislike the book, I finished because I wanted to know the ending, how everything fit together. But I wasn't so involved that I couldn't put the book down. The ghost part wasn't as mysterious as I had hoped.
I will continue to read Garth Stein, he has interesting plots, but this one just fell a little flat for what I was expecting.