TITLE: A Sudden Light
AUTHOR: Garth Stein
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
GENRE: Mystery, Paranormal, Historical Fiction
RATING: 4.5/5 Stars
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 with 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.
What I Liked:
- I found the characters that Trevor, the MC, surrounded himself with so interesting! They made for such an interesting family - Trevor's Dad, jittery & quick to temper; Aunt Serena, a little eccentric and extremely manipulative; and Grandpa Abe, forgetful but sweet-natured. Their personalities, backstories and motivations were very complex and I enjoyed reading about them.
- Stein built the atmosphere in this book very nicely too. The house felt alive, like it's own character, and it's isolated position alongside the ghosts that haunted it and rich history made for very interesting reading. I loved the setting very much!
What I Disliked:
- Trevor, the narrator and MC, was a little on the bland side compared to the other characters in this book. Not only that, but I didn't feel that he read like a fourteen year old boy! His voice was far too mature, dotted only with the odd reference to puberty or teenage life.
This was an extremely enjoyable book, and for that reason I regret having waited all this time to read it. I loved the characters (most of them anyway, sorry Trevor), was deeply engaged with the mystery of it all and found the setting appropriately haunting. I wish that the pacing of the story had been a little quicker though - not an awful lot happens until right at the very end!