A Sudden Light: A Novel (Hardcover)
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October 2014 Indie Next List
“Stein's new novel of family relationships and responsibilities explores the connections between the living and the dead, between parents and children, and what it means to be stewards of the land. Two very compelling characters drive the story: a 14-year-old boy trying to patch his family back together and a centuries-old ghost trying to make sure that the wrongs of the past are put right so that a family's legacy can be maintained. A Sudden Light is a compelling search for faith and meaning in a world where bad things sometimes happen.”
— Andrea Jones, The Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, VT
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.
"Remarkable....Stein's prose is assured, gorgeous, and magnificently atmospheric....Cheers to Garth Stein for showing us compassion, empathy, and incredible talent."
"A captivating page-turner."
"Rich and textured...Stein is resourceful, cleverly piecing together the family history with dreams, overheard conversations, and reminiscences...a tale well told."
"Set against the stunning beauty of the Pacific Northwest and told with expert angst, empathy, poetry, and mystery, Stein has created an ode to nature and redemption...in turns touching and classically sinister, with surprising twists."
"A haunting family saga."
"Commanding...formidable...robust and well-written with beautifully clever diction and unexpected plot twists"
"Take equal parts mystery, lyrical magic, and a healthy dose of natural wonder, add a multi-generational family struggling with the ghosts of the past, literally and figuratively, and you have A Sudden Light—a beautiful, deeply thought-provoking story that is impossible to put down."
— Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
“Wow! I devoured A Sudden Light, a grand, gorgeous, multi-generational epic of the Pacific Northwest. Garth Stein has given us another singular, soulful, and wise narrator for the ages, who tells us a story full of mystery and yearning. I adored this book.”
— Maria Semple, New York Times bestselling author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette
“This magnificent and haunting ghost story will pull you into its world and hold you captive, awe you with the enduring power and beauty of nature, and, on every page, fill you with amazement at Stein’s infinite compassion for the human condition…. A major achievement by a major American writer.”
— Robert Goolrick, author of A Reliable Wife and Heading Out to Wonderful
"Haunting in all the right ways."
“A Sudden Light is the best of many genres: a ghost story, a love story, historical fiction….a truly killer read…a bold, poignant book about wealth, family ties, and the power—and fallacy—of memory.”
"Imbued with strong, quirky characters and the smell of place, the allegiances of family and the realization of mystery...When all is said and done, and you have turned the last page, you find you have loved the journey."
"Stein's beautiful writing packs a velvety punch and is pure pleasure to read. A Sudden Light entertains with suspenseful story lines and satisfies with its message of family, story, and redemption."
"A 14-year-old boy trying to patch his family back together and a centuries-old ghost drive this novel's explorations of the connections between the living and the dead, parents and children, and what it means to be stewards of the land."
“A story of empire-building, fathers and sons, family and environmental destruction, secrets kept and promises broken…a book worth reading.”
"Heart-wrenching, poignant, joyful.... Garth Stein is a master storyteller!"