A Sudden Light; Garth Stein
Simon & Schuster - Sept 2014
For fourteen year old Trevor Riddle the summer of 1990 is unlike any other. His parents have separated and are in dire straits financially. While his mother heads back to England to stay with her family, Trevor and his father Jones Riddle are headed for Puget Sound, and Riddle House. Riddle House is a decaying mansion set on some 200 acres, built with money acquired through the timber industry, and a place that has been in the family for over a century. Why hasn't Jones been in contact with his family in over 20 years?
Jones and his sister Serena hope to get grandpa Samuel who suffers from dementia, into a more appropriate living quarters. What will then become of Riddle House? Brother and sister see themselves selling off the property and it's million dollar to developers looking to construct McMansions on the land. But not so fast, it soon becomes clear that there are curses dating back to great great grandfather Elijah. Even the ghost of Samuel's late wife has some feelings about Riddle House, and selling off the property may not be as easy as was once thought.
This novel wasn't quite what I expected by still enjoyable. It was not what I think of when I hear ghost story. Yes things disappear, floors squeak, and there are secrets dating back some 100 years, but some there were some thing that never felt fully explained. Much of the story is revealed through Trevor by way of diary entries, letters, and from the ghosts themselves. Although I enjoyed Trevor as the narrator and admired his desire to do the right thing, at times it felt as though the story might have worked better through a third person p.o.v., especially since the story reveals secrets from such an earlier point in time -- decades and decades before there even was a Trevor.
Despite these minor quibbles this is a story that has a little bit of everything, multi-generational story, family secrets and dysfunction, ghostly elements, greed and even loyalty, forgiveness and redemption. It’s nothing like The Art of Racing in the Rain, a story I adored, but it is a story many readers may enjoy.
(eGalley and arc)