A Sudden Light

A Sudden Light

A Novel

Book - 2014
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In the summer of 1990, 14-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 Puget Sound. Trevor's bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House for the summer with a goal: he will join forces with his sister, Serena, to dispatch Grandpa Samuel, who is flickering in and out of dementia, to a graduated living facility, sell off the house and property for development into 'tract housing for millionaires,' divide up the profits, and live happily ever after. But Trevor soon discovers there's someone else living in Riddell House: a ghost with an agenda of his own. For while the land holds tremendous value, it is also burdened by the final wishes of the family patriarch, Elijah, that it be allowed to return to untamed forestland as a penance for the millions of trees harvested over the decades by Riddell Timber. As he uncovers secrets of his family's past that are hidden deep within the house, guided by the whisperings of the ghost, Trevor discovers a legacy of family trauma and terrible guilt. The ghost will not rest until Elijah's wish is fulfilled, and Trevor's willingness to face the past holds the key to his family's future.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2014
ISBN: 9781439187036
Characteristics: 396 p. : genealogical table ; 24 cm


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ArapahoeJillK Jan 19, 2018

This unconventional yet enchanting novel features a crumbling mansion, beautifully tranquil scenery, a ghost story, and forbidden love.

Sep 23, 2017

I thought this novel was excellent. The story was a little slow moving, until the last three or four chapters but I didn't mind.

Jun 20, 2016

I enjoyed this book for numerous reasons; it's setting: Seattle, since it has been my home for the last 24 years; the intense narrative voice of a 15 year old boy, since my son is also 15; the historical perspective of a dysfunctional family and the effects of their decisions on the generations to come, since I think we all have some dysfunction and need to know how intensely it can affect those we love. I liked that it was a ghost story, it brought to life the effect that those before us still hold sway on our lives in a multitude of ways.

ChristchurchLib May 15, 2016

Trevor Riddell is 14 the year that his parents try a trial separation and he and his father move to Riddell House, a 100-year-old wooden mansion outside of Seattle. It's inhabited by Trevor's grandfather, who doesn't want to acquiesce to his children's demands that he move out and sell the land to developers. And the more Trevor learns, the more he sides with his grandfather. Part coming-of-age story, part family saga -- and throw in a ghost, to boot -- and this novel is a good choice if you're looking for something that combines a sophisticated writing style with a witty narrative voice.

cmlibrary_anickerson Jan 31, 2016

The story is engaging and unfolds quickly as Trevor's eyes are opened to ghostly intentions through the discovery of secret rooms, diaries, and his grandfather's spirit guided writing. Mysterious and haunting.

Jan 23, 2016

I gave up on this book after about 40 pages. It did not interest me in the least, even if the author is local. Some of the writing made me cringe.

Jan 22, 2016

I gave up on this story about half way through mainly due to the supposed ghosts. It was too wordy and dragged out and unbelievable. The character of Serena wasn't real. The author's description of the forests was, however, beautiful. I liked his "Racing in the Rain" better.

Jan 10, 2016

What a great book, started off a bit slows but within the next 2 chapters it became pretty good and now it is awesome and that is just half way through, I feel like I am living in this book,

Jul 05, 2015

I picked this up partly because it's about the early timber barons of the Seattle area and their descendants--where I live. I like to see what a writer makes of regional issues, especially when they live, or have lived, in the area. Here, the answer is, virtually nothing. The only redeeming features are Trevor, a precocious but well-rounded 14 year old who's trying to get his parents back together, for a change. I also enjoyed his gay ancestor Ben and lover Harry, who Trevor learns about via dreams, ghosts, and Ben's and Harry's journal's. Trevor's grandfather Samuel is sweet, whether he has Alzheimer's, dementia, or is being over-medicated by his daughter. The action in the present day (1990) is very over the top and not at all believable. Seattle, past or present, isn't believable, either. So I wouldn't recommend this, which was boring for 120 pages, picked up nicely, then got boring again after some major excitement.

Jun 25, 2015

Four stars! One of my favorite books in a long time. The three main characters are very nuanced. I like the fact that each is somewhat flawed. This combination of a coming of age story with a mystery and a bit of the history of the logging industry in the Pacific northwest make it an interesting read. I love the fact that the ending isn't your typical happily ever after end that most American readers have come to expect.

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