From Garth Stein, author of the beloved bestseller The Art of Racing in the Rain—now a major motion picture!
The New York Times bestselling “witty, atmospheric” (People) story of a once powerful American family, and the price that must be paid by the heirs as they struggle for redemption: “A captivating page-turner” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis).
Twenty-three years after the fateful summer of 1990, Trevor Riddell recalls the events surrounding his fourteenth birthday, when he gets his first glimpse of the infamous 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 Seattle’s Puget Sound. Trevor’s bankrupt parents have separated, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with Aunt Serena, dispatch the ailing and elderly Grandpa Samuel to a nursing home, sell off the house and property for development, and divide up the profits.
But as young Trevor explores the house’s hidden stairways and forgotten rooms, he discovers secrets that convince him that the family plan may be at odds with the land’s true destiny. Only Trevor’s willingness to face the dark past of his forefathers will reveal the key to his family’s future.
Spellbinding and atmospheric, A Sudden Light is rich with vivid characters, poetic scenes of natural beauty, and powerful moments of spiritual transcendence. “Garth Stein is resourceful, cleverly piecing together the family history with dreams, overheard conversations, and reminiscences…a tale well told,” (The Seattle Times)—a triumphant work of a master storyteller at the height of his power.
In a complete change of pace from his dog-centric The Art of Racing in the Rain, Stein transports the reader to Riddell House, a 100-year-old mansion made entirely of wood overlooking Puget Sound. Jones Riddell and his 14-year-old son, Trevor, move there following the failure of Jones's business and his ensuing separation from Trevor's mother. Jones has come to Riddell House to help his younger sister, Serena, persuade their Alzheimer's-afflicted father to sell the family land, which is worth a fortune, to housing developers. But supernatural forces stand in the way of the deal. Clever Trevor, as he is called, begins to see ghosts and have visions. Researching the history of the Riddell clan rapacious timber barons he finds that it is rife with sexual secrets, incest, illness, and even madness, which forces him to realize that his dream of seeing his family whole again might come at too great a cost. With its single setting and small cast of characters (ghosts not included), the story's feeling of claustrophobia adds to the tension. Stein dramatizes the various tensions between his characters well, although narrator Trevor comes off as a tad precocious for 14. The history of the Riddell family fails to shock after a while, even as events in the present lead to the tragic denouement.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A Sudden Light
Loved it! The writing is wonderful and the story compelling. Who wouldn't want to see a cherished loved one again?
A Sudden Light
This book is a combination of pro-environmentalist, pro-capitalism (I think), and pro-spirtualism. Strange and confusing. It did not hold my interest and often seemed lost in the story line. Maybe it could be rewritten, narrowed in subject matter, and become a good story.
Loved this book!
Stein's tale of a Seattle dynasty and its tragic legacy was very appealing, and I read it with great speed and enjoyment. Definitely one of my favorite summer reads of 2015.