Friday, October 17, 2014

Garth Stein Casts A Sudden Light

There is a certain advantage in casting A Sudden Light in the pre-Internet era of the 1990s. There are no laptops. There are no cell phones. There is no Internet or search terms. On the whole, it creates a sense of isolation that some people have never felt and fewer and fewer people even remember.

There was a time when those things did not exist. And for 14-year-old Trevor Riddell, it makes a trip with his father to the aging Riddell House all the more isolating. Set deep within a redwood forest near Seattle, the house where his aunt and grandfather live are among the last remnants of his family's timber-baron fortune. It's the kind of place filled with secrets for a "clever" boy to find them all.

A Sudden Light is a story of family secrets, justified deception, and the supernatural. 

It is a story about a family that confronts its long-buried secrets as it struggles to reconcile its past in order to move toward an uncertain future. The mansion, constructed of giant whole trees and set on a huge estate overlooking Puget Sound, is as discounted from the rest of the world as its occupants.

Waiting to welcome Jones Riddell home is his younger sister who stayed behind to care for their ailing father, Samuel. She has been waiting all her life for this reunion and an opportunity to secure ownership of the estate, sell the property, divide the profits, and live happily ever after.

There is more than one problem with this plan. Jones Riddell may be welcomed by his sister, but his father seems much more uncertain. Something came between the two men years ago, a secret that caused Samuel to send Jones away for good. So while Samuel is suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's, he rightly expects the visit to be a plot to usurp the estate and send him away.

This idea isn't as easy as it sounds. Along with his own twisted attachment to the property, Samuel swears he can hear his late wife dancing in the upstair sballroom. She dances for him, he says plainly.

She isn't the only spirit sighted. Ben, who is the son of original magnate Elijah Riddell, is said to be trapped on the estate as well. His spirit remains on the estate in the hopes of seeing a promise he made to his young partner, Harry, that balance would be restored to the land by transforming the entire estate into a reserve rather than selling it to developers with an intent to parcel the land into lots.

Told through the eyes of Trevor, reflecting back as a adult, A Sudden Light challenges a teen who was raised largely separated from the weight of the Riddell family to become an inquisitive, reflective, and objective voice. It also provides the backdrop in recognizing the past may influence us but we must still come to terms with it in order to move forward because we often do not see things as they are, but as we are.

A few more graphs about author Garth Stein.

Garth Stein is the author of five novels, including the coming-of-age mystery A Sudden Light, which was written as an expansion of his stage play Brother Jones. He is best known for his bestselling book The Art of Racing in the Rain and the PNBA Book Award winner How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets.

Stein's shorter bio cites that he has a dog, he's raced a few cars, climbed a bunch of really tall trees, made a few documentary films, and he lives in Seattle with his family. But beyond this thumbnail, the author was born and raised in Seattle before moving to New York City. He eventually returned and has since been responsible for helping found the nonprofit organization Seattle4Writers, which provides funding, programming, donations of free books to those in need.

A Sudden Light By Garth Stein Chops 7.2 On The Liquid Hip Righter Scale. 

Although A Sudden Light has a supernatural element, the novel should not be confused with horror. Stein invests much more of his time in the human condition, multigenerational family ties, and the beauty of the natural world. He employs the spiritual presence at Riddell House as a mechanism to connect the present to the past as opposed to attempting to frighten or fascinate. Any tension is given more to the living than the dead.

You can find A Sudden Light: A Novel by Garth Stein on Amazon. You can also download A Sudden Light for iBooks or find the audiobook on iTunes. It is narrated by Seth Numrich, who provides the story with a gothic feel in addition to convincingly portraying Trevor Riddell as an adult looking back on himself as a bright teen. A Sudden Light can also be purchased at Barnes & Noble.
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