Sudden Light by Garth Stein (4 out of 5)


I had this book for MONTHS before I picked it up. Even then, the first thing I enjoyed was the cover. What a freaking gorgeous cover! Perfect for the haunting season, if you ask me. And since there’s the element of supernatural in the book, even better! The fact that Mr. Garth Stein is easy on the eyes is the reason I picked that image. Sue me, I’m shallow. Not to mention talented. If you aren’t aware (and I wasn’t, until I saw the add on banner on the book itself the day of its release), Stein is the author of The Art of Racing In the Rain, a poignant, beautiful story of a dog’s last years. Also a New York Times bestseller for a long time. Not an easy feat to accomplish in this time of a Patterson every other week, a Nora Roberts every couple of months, and horrible erotica that’s spawned on a fan fiction site. Anyway, I am getting away from the merits of the works that Mr. Garth Stein has written. This is a whole different book; if you are expecting anything remotely like that book, well, kids, get out your imagination umbrella and hop out into the rain with me. It’ll be a pleasant storm.

It’s the summer of 1990. It’s the best of times, and the worst of times for 14-year old Trevor. He’s dispatched by his father, in wake of his parents’ marital decline, to Riddell House, the family mansion. He gets a multitude of tasks that no 14-year old boy should have to deal with- get his ailing, elderly grandfather into a nursing home; get the house in some sort of saleable order, get it sold, divide up the money amongst the family, and move onto a happy, normal life. I’m sure at this point in the review you’re chuckling and shaking your head going “That’s not how it goes”. Trevor, in his attempts to get this monumental task accomplished, begins exploring the house’s hidden corners, secret stairways, and mysterious rooms. That’s when it gets weird. There’s more than a touch of supernatural at work here. There’s a ghostly spirit that refuses to let the house be sold, and we’ll just say, without giving much away, that it lets that fact be known. Trevor, in order to figure out a solution to this, begins digging into the dark past of his family and those who lives in Riddell House long before. So, before we go further here, if you don’t believe in the supernatural or that spirits exist in a realm outside that of the living, don’t read this book, for it won’t ring true with you in any way, shape, or form. However, if you want a realistic, somewhat spooky story about family secrets coming back to cast shadows (metaphorically and otherwise) over the current generation, then give it a shot.

The characters in this book are fascinating, offbeat, and relatable, even in some parts where you would think that’s not normally the case. The backstory, once revealed, is truly something. The story is gripping, the prose is fluid and beautifully written. The beauty of Seattle’s Puget Sound is also well explained, almost to an extent you feel as if you’re there, when you may never have been there. Stein’s writing brings a touch of the now, the then, and the what if? As far as the eventual reveal, well, there is, indeed a sudden light. No way in hell am I giving away what that is, but once you get to it, believe me, you’ll be glad you found your way through this book.

The book, published by Simon & Schuster, is currently available at your local bookstore.


~ by generationgbooks on October 5, 2014.

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