Published by Simon and Schuster on 2014-09-30
Genres: Fiction, General
Source: Simon and Schuster
Add to Goodreads
Buy the Book at Amazon • Buy the Book at Indiebound •
When a boy tries to save his parents’ marriage, he uncovers a legacy of family secrets in a coming-of-age ghost story by the author of the internationally bestselling phenomenon, The Art of Racing in the Rain.
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.
I received this book for free from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I have a confession to make. I have not read THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN. I’ve seen the title – in fact, my feed reader was inundated with book reviews and buzz about the book when it came out, but for some reason, I’ve just never felt the urge to pick it up and read it. Still, I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking at the cover on Amazon, in my local bookstore, and I’ve even seen it at some garage sales. I can picture it clearly in my mind, and so, when I saw that A SUDDEN LIGHT was being released I thought – why not read the newest Garth Stein book and actually be on top of things?
And it was going well at first. I really dug the concept of the book – man returns home with son to put to right some ancient wrong and make peace with his past. I loved the setting – I’ve always been a huge fan of the Pacific Northwest and, in fact, it’s my dream to live there someday. I really loved the writing style – Stein has a poetic way with words, there is no denying that. But something happened when I hit about the midway point.
Things started to get a bit dull. I wasn’t as creeped out as I had been by the ghost element for the first half. I didn’t care nearly as much about the outcome of certain events because, due to extensive explanations and histories being fleshed out, I had an idea of where things were going to go. By the time the end of the book came around, I felt like Stein had taken my hand and carefully led me through the maze of a story then handed me a shiny lollipop at the end of the story and said, here you are! Aren’t you surprised by my treat?
I wasn’t. But that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the journey to some extent. Parts of the book reminded me of a creepy, modern Jane Eyre type story. I was fascinated by the initial descriptions of the house and loved and devoured the portions of the book that described secret stairways and rooms. I drooled as certain items were revealed (rare books – looove) and found myself daydreaming a few times about how amazing it would be to stumble upon such a treasure.
But ultimately, what it came down to was, I felt the book was just too long. There was too much detail, too much explaining and history-story telling, and not enough left to the reader to puzzle out along the way. Just before I felt like I was reaching an “aha!” moment, Stein would sweep the rug out from underneath me by telling me exactly what I had been about to come up with. So, yeah, I felt cheated a bit, and that’s why I didn’t rate this book higher, even though I would have dearly loved to.
Check out these reviews!
- “Strike a match if you dare and walk through the secret passages of A Sudden Light… You won’t be able to stop yourself from moving forward… or turning those pages as fast as you can! “ – Chick with Books
- “Overall I found this to be a well-written book with a rather slow pace There were times when I struggled to pay attention and other points when a tornado could not have torn my attention away.” – Readful Things Blog
- “If you’re looking for an enjoyable read for late evenings when ghosts seem a lot closer to reality, then this is the book for you!” – A Universe in Words