Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Sudden Light

by Garth Stein
396 pgs

Garth Stein follows up his very popular The Art of Racing in the Rain with a coming-of-age ghost story. In A Sudden Light 14-year-old Trevor Riddell accompanies his father back to Riddell House, the palatial estate his father grew up in outside of Seattle. His father's ancestor Elijah Riddell made his money as a lumber baron in the early 1900s, and he built the palatial estate Trevor's father has been called back to out of huge whole trees overlooking Puget Sound.

When they arrive, Trevor meets his grandfather Samuel Riddell, who suffers from Alzheimer's, and his beautiful aunt Serena, who lives with Samuel and cares for him. Now that the family fortune is all gone, and the house is falling apart and close to being condemned, Trevor's father has been summoned back by Serena to help her convince their father to sign a power of attorney, allowing them to sell the estate to a developer for millions of dollars.

But as Trevor begins exploring Riddell House, he soon finds that Grandpa Samuel and Aunt Serena aren't the only two inhabiting the mansion. There's a spirit lingering in the darkened staircases and musty rooms, and the spirit wants to enlist Trevor's help in stopping the sale of the house to developers, so that the land the house was built on can be returned to the beautiful natural beauty that once existed there.

I've yet to read any of Stein's previous books, including The Art of Racing in the Rain, so I have nothing to compare A Sudden Light to, but knowing how popular his previous book was, I had high hopes going into this one. Overall I wasn't disappointed. The book has some flaws, chief of which is the highly-refined language used by 14-year-old Trevor throughout, but the mood and tone of the book were excellent, and the story was interesting and kept me engaged, especially towards the end. It's a book I will be recommending to others, and it made me want to go back and read his others.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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