by Garth Stein
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Reading Group Guide
Published: September 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Ghosts, Historical
Hardback: 416 pages
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.
Set in the Pacific Northwest amongst the beautiful surroundings of giant trees and the big outdoors the mood of longing in this story is captured well.
Each character, whether they were human or ghost, had equally engaging and absorbing histories to learn about.
The story flip flopped from present (main character) to past (ghost characters) which created a complete story - one that goes full circle with a satisfying ending.
Unsettling moments and secrets revealed kept me curious and glued to this story to the end.
* review copy courtesy of publisher
* added this to my Bookish Bingo challenge - square: Middle Grade (protagonist is middle grade)