A Sudden Light by Garth Stein

A Sudden Light* If you have ever read “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” This is by the same author. Whilst this is definitely a different type of book from that one, this is also a book that has moments which will stay with you. I had a difficult time trying to decide how to rate this book fairly as there were some parts I loved and some parts that I did not.  It shall be released September 30th.

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Have you ever read a book and then been so conflicted about how you felt about it that you weren’t even sure what you would say if someone asked you “did you like it?” Yep. That about sums up how I feel about this book.

I’m not going to be negative here, the writing is beautiful and definitely worthy of being that of Garth Stein. I felt a few tendrils of his earlier works in this novel, although I must agree that it is a new direction for him and very different from his other, very popular book of recent note.

This novel was interesting and told from a voice and perspective that at times seemed to be more mature than the age I believed the narrator to be, but at other times seemed right for his strange family upbringing.

This is a generational tale with a bit of paranormal, a lot of mysteries and a very relaxed pace. If you are the type of reader who wants things to happen right away and don’t like waiting for the plot to reveal itself, this will likely not be the book for you.

However, if you, instead, are the type who enjoys very complex tales of family betrayals, multiple characters with secrets and intense past history, then you will love this.

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.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

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8 thoughts on “A Sudden Light by Garth Stein

  1. Thanks for your review. I have this on my kindle, but will wait a bit until getting to it. I am still on the fence as to what I’ll think. Sounds a bit more complicated than the simple, lovable story of Racing in the Rain. We’ll see.

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      • Really? I did not find it complex at all. Formulaic and predictable perhaps. Clichéd even. A rather disappointing read for such an anticipated novel. I loved The Art of Racing in the Rain. This novel, not so much. Review to come in September. Cheers.

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