|Title: A Sudden Light|
Author: Garth Stein
Published: September 30, 2014 by Simon & Schuster
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Synopsis: The bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain presents a long-awaited new novel in which a boy trying to save his parents’ marriage uncovers a vast legacy of family secrets.
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 Seattle’s 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 the ailing and elderly Grandpa Samuel to a nursing home, sell off the house and property for development, divide up the profits, and live happily ever after.
But as Trevor explores the house’s secret stairways and hidden rooms, he discovers a spirit lingering in Riddell House whose agenda is at odds with the family plan. 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 unconventional characters, scenes of transcendent natural beauty, and unforgettable moments of emotional truth that reflect Garth Stein’s outsized capacity for empathy and keen understanding of human motivation—a triumphant work of a master storyteller at the height of his power.
*** I received a copy of the book from the published via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review in return. This fact has not influenced my opinion ***
Before I review this book I have to explain something. You are probably not surprised to know that I enjoy History based on the books I read. I enjoy it so much that I studied it in college. I have always liked History because of this inherent curiosity that I have. I always want to know about what places and people used to be like. Typically when I go into a building, especially a house, I find myself wondering what a room was used for when the house was first built. Because of this I was immediately attracted to the premise of A Sudden Light.
A Sudden Light seemed like the perfect Halloween story to me. I'm not a big fan of horror but I do like a story about exploring a creepy house and can handle a ghost or two as long as their not wreaking havoc for no reason. And while that was the basis for this story and we did get a little bit of that, it was really a story about family dealing with their own personal demons.
This was definitely more of a character-driven novel than I expected. The focus of the book was on Trevor and his family as they attempted to decide what to do about their crumbling old house. Their responses to the challenges they were faced were what moved everything along. But it may have just felt character-driven because the characters were one of the best parts about the book. I really liked the MC Trevor. He was the perfect combination of precocious and naive. Inquisitive and intelligent but hopeful and childlike. His personality worked so well for the exploration of this old house with secrets. But it also worked so well compared to the other characters. Pretty much all the secondary characters were these smarmy, manipulative, and dubious characters who were looking out for their own selfish interests. Every one of them, including the ghost, exerts their influence over Trevor to get what they want and many of them are at odds with what the other person wants. By the end of the book, many of the characters have great arcs where we get to understand their motivations a little more and it makes them much more sympathetic. I was surprised to find that I was invested in the success of more than just Trevor by the time the book had ended.
This is one of those rare books where I say I would have enjoyed it so much more if I hadn't finished it. If I had stopped without having read the last 25 pages. On the whole I did enjoy the characters and the world but that ending just didn't work for me and the mystery was just too convenient.
Have you read A Sudden Light? What did you think? Have you ever read a book where you enjoyed it until the very end? Did it change your opinion of the book like this did me? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!