I received an Advanced Review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. I invite you to read my review, watch the book trailer and win your own SIGNED hardcopy of the book (US/Canada).
The first thing that struck me about A SUDDEN LIGHT is the rich and flowing prose that immediately sweeps the reader into the story. It begins on a very philosophical note that reminds me of a common theme in Greek mythology: a curse. When something of beauty is destroyed, the ancestors of the destroyer are cursed and pass on this curse until someone, somewhere along the family line is able to make amends. The universe must be paid back in order for the curse to be broken.
Trevor is a 14 year old boy who had a happy and normal life with his parents growing up in Connecticut. But any contentment he has experienced in his life is broken when his parents decide to separate. Due to his dad’s poor financial planning, his family has also gone bankrupt and they have lost their house in Connecticut. Trevor’s mother takes off for England to stay with her parents and Trevor travels with his father to visit his father’s family in Seattle. It is strange and alarming that Trevor has never met his paternal grandfather or his Aunt Selena.
When Trevor arrives at his ancestral home in Seattle, he discovers that Riddell House and his family have a long and tragic history which is slowly revealed to him throughout his visit. His great-great grandfather, Elijah Riddell, Trevor learns, made a vast fortune from buying land, clearing forests and selling the timber. Riddell House itself is made from this plundered timber and it is now falling into a state of decay and receding back into the forest from which it came. What will be the fate of this ancestral homestead and the prized forest on which it sits?
Garth Stein’s ability to create interesting and dynamic characters is nothing short of literary genius. The reader is instantaneously drawn to Trevor, a 14 year old boy who is not quite an adult but is astute enough to know that what is going on around him at Riddell House does not seem right. He is able to research and delve into his family’s history and even connect with the spirits of past relatives who still dwell at Riddell House.
Selena, Trevor’s eccentric aunt, seems nice and kind but there is something peculiar about her and at times her behavior even appears to be sinister. Like everyone else in the family, she has been damaged by the family’s tragic past and she is so desperate to make her life into something else. Grandpa Samuel displays the signs of dementia but he has moments of lucidity during which he reveals family secrets to Trevor. And Trevor’s father is clearly scarred by whatever drove him from Riddell House as a teenager and has kept him away ever since.
There are so many reasons why I enthusiastically recommend reading A SUDDEN LIGHT. The prose of this novel is enchanting and matches the dream like state of Riddell House. The plot, which blends historical fiction, ghost story and family saga, is riveting as the Riddell family secrets are slowly unraveled to us through a series of old letters, diary entries and dreams. Finally, the multi-dimensional characters cause you to have an emotional attachment to them and you will be sorry to see them go when you close the last page of the book. I suggest that you quickly finish whatever book you are reading now and follow Trevor through his journey in A SUDDEN LIGHT by Garth Stein.
About the Author:
Garth Stein is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Art of Racing in the Rain,
published in thirty-five languages, and two previous novels, How Evan Broke His Head and Other
Secrets and Raven Stole the Moon. He is the cofounder of Seattle7Writers, a non-profit collective of Northwest authors working to foster a passion for the written word. He lives in Seattle with his family. Find out more at: www.GarthStein.com. For expanded content about A SUDDEN LIGHT please visit: www.asuddenlight.com. Please also watch the book trailer for a description of the book in the author’s own words:
This giveaway is for a SIGNED Hardcopy of A Sudden Light. It is open to residents of the US or Canada. To enter, please leave me a comment below in the comment section and let me know what about this book appeals to you. A winner will be randomly selected from all entries. Contest ends 11/2 at 12:00 a.m. EST.