A Sudden Light by Garth Stein



With a book—presuming it’s a good book—you can depend upon an outcome that adheres to the necessities of drama. The question will be answered. It has to be. The answer may not be happy; we can’t guarantee a comedy. Sometimes tragedy strikes. But there will be a conclusion. Of that we can be sure. That’s the whole point of a book. But in real life, there is no guarantee that any question will ever be answered. Real life is messy because we don’t know where it’s going to go.

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The first book I have ever read of Garth’s was “The Art of Racing in the Rain”, which was a tear jerker for me, but an amazing story!   The cover to his new book “A Sudden Light” caught my eye first and I knew I had to read it!  The year is 1990 and main character Trevor is just shy of his 14th birthday when his world comes to halt.  His families financial situation is not so hot, leading his mother to head off to a different country to stay with her parents and Trevor and his dad to the Riddle 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, whom they think has dementia, to a graduated living facility, sell off the house and property for development.  Trevor soon discovers there’s someone else living in Riddell House..a ghost with an agenda of his own.  Although 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.

I was entertained the entire time of reading this story.  It was in depth, but not so much that one would get lost while reading.  A Sudden Light is a very enjoyable read: it is part ghost story, part detective story, interlarded with historical and environmental topics and of course a coming-of-age book. There are lots of twists and turns, some expected, some very sudden.  It was simply beautifully written. There is something incredibly magical about author Garth Stein’s style of writing. A natural storyteller, he’s woven a haunting and sentimental tale with a touch of whimsy.


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