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A Sudden Light

A Novel

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


The New York Times bestselling “witty, atmospheric” (People) story of a once powerful American family, and the price that must be paid by the heirs as they struggle for redemption: “A captivating page-turner” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis).

Twenty-three years after the fateful summer of 1990, Trevor Riddell recalls the events surrounding his fourteenth birthday, when he gets his first glimpse of the infamous 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 separated, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with Aunt Serena, dispatch the ailing and elderly Grandpa Samuel to a nursing home, sell off the house and property for development, and divide up the profits.

But as young Trevor explores the house’s hidden stairways and forgotten rooms, he discovers secrets that convince him that the family plan may be at odds with the land’s true destiny. 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 vivid characters, poetic scenes of natural beauty, and powerful moments of spiritual transcendence. “Garth Stein is resourceful, cleverly piecing together the family history with dreams, overheard conversations, and reminiscences…a tale well told,” (The Seattle Times)—a triumphant work of a master storyteller at the height of his power.

From Publishers Weekly

Jul 07, 2014 – In a complete change of pace from his dog-centric The Art of Racing in the Rain, Stein transports the reader to Riddell House, a 100-year-old mansion made entirely of wood overlooking Puget Sound. Jones Riddell and his 14-year-old son, Trevor, move there following the failure of Jones's business and his ensuing separation from Trevor's mother. Jones has come to Riddell House to help his younger sister, Serena, persuade their Alzheimer's-afflicted father to sell the family land, which is worth a fortune, to housing developers. But supernatural forces stand in the way of the deal. Clever Trevor, as he is called, begins to see ghosts and have visions. Researching the history of the Riddell clan rapacious timber barons he finds that it is rife with sexual secrets, incest, illness, and even madness, which forces him to realize that his dream of seeing his family whole again might come at too great a cost. With its single setting and small cast of characters (ghosts not included), the story's feeling of claustrophobia adds to the tension. Stein dramatizes the various tensions between his characters well, although narrator Trevor comes off as a tad precocious for 14. The history of the Riddell family fails to shock after a while, even as events in the present lead to the tragic denouement.

Customer Reviews

A Sudden Light

This book is a combination of pro-environmentalist, pro-capitalism (I think), and pro-spirtualism. Strange and confusing. It did not hold my interest and often seemed lost in the story line. Maybe it could be rewritten, narrowed in subject matter, and become a good story.

A sudden light

I've never disliked a book more. Ever.

Too much Ben and Harry

I read the entire book, but had to take a Ben break quite often. I realize he's part of the foundation of the story, but wow. At another point in the story I thought Harry might take over lead role with his diary excerpts. Sorry Garth..

A Sudden Light
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction & Literature
  • Published: Sep 30, 2014
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Print Length: 416 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings