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A Sudden Light

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  8,669 Ratings  ·  1,614 Reviews
When a boy tries to save his parents’ marriage, he uncovers a legacy of family secrets in a coming-of-age ghost story by the author of the internationally bestselling phenomenon, The Art of Racing in the Rain.

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 fami
ebook, 400 pages
Published August 28th 2014 by Simon & Schuster UK
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Michelle I knew she was a phony and a psycho because one minute she's freaking out because Grandpa Samuel won't eat his chicken, YET he has full unsupervised…moreI knew she was a phony and a psycho because one minute she's freaking out because Grandpa Samuel won't eat his chicken, YET he has full unsupervised access to a barn full of WOODWORKING TOOLS, and she never seems overly concerned about that or the fact that he wanders out of the house at any given time of day or night. Lol.(less)
Susy W He was a mature 14 year old but remember he was very well read and smart. He was a witty little thing. I enjoyed his narrative a lot.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Well crap..I had such high hopes for this book.
Plus it starts off so very good. The 14 year old in the story is smart and funny. His voice is a breathe of fresh air-then well...It got so boring that I just couldn't do it anymore.

Trevor is with his "separated" father as he goes back to Seattle to hopefully sell the family house. One problem there is that his father (with whom dementia has supposedly set in)wants to stick to the original ancestor's request that the home and lands just be returned
Sep 16, 2014 Dani rated it did not like it
I'm probably going to become the most hated reviewer of all time, but I have to announce that I did not like this book. Not just a "eh, this isn't for me," but a "are you serious right now?! I can't believe I have to finish this thing." When I first heard about this book I thought I was going to fall in love with it. Gothic setting? Yes! Coming of age? I'm there! Ghosts? Yup! Family saga? You can't stop me from reading this! When I finally got it into my hands, I was thrilled. The first chapter ...more
Feb 12, 2016 Elyse rated it it was amazing
Audiobook: -An outstanding walking Companion!

First off ... whomever was the voice narrator ... gets an A+ rating from me. He was
terrific. I'm just beginning to appreciate the talent a person must have to read an entire novel to hold our interest. From the get-go, the dialogue was engaging. Parts were funny to the point I laughed silly blowing leaves off of trees I passed.
There were definitely dark and mysterious moments. The descriptions in this story of the house, land, the giant trees were
Diane S ☔
Sep 26, 2014 Diane S ☔ rated it liked it
2.5 This book has all the elements that draw me towards a novel: a huge old house with secret passages and rooms, a old family secret, old diaries found and a few very unusual characters. So why didn't this novel work for me?

It is narrated by a man looking back at a period in his life when his parents were separated and he met his Father's family for the first tie, encountered the house and a few ghosts but it is all narrated by his fourteen year old self. This kind of bugged me because the who
Sep 22, 2014 Shaun rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
I often think about what makes a book "good" for me...Is it amazing poetic prose, memorable and interesting characters, or a kick-ass story that pulls me in, shakes me up, and then spits me back out a little changed, hopefully for the better? Maybe it's some combination of the above.

After some reflection, I've come to the conclusion that the best books are the ones that leave me with something tangible, provide me a new and novel way of thinking about something even if only marginally so--like a
Those who follow my reviews know I am a sucker for a good family secrets novel and this one had it all…secrets, spirits/ghosts, lies, deception and a great generational story. I enjoyed Stein’s book The Art of Racing in the Rain and when I saw he had a new book coming out I requested this one on Netgalley and once I started I could not put it down.

I really enjoyed this story I liked the flow of it and the writing, I felt like Trevor was telling me his story and I was completely enthralled.

My fav
Aug 27, 2016 Jennie rated it it was amazing
As of this date, 2/11/14, it's possible that I'm the only GoodReads reviewer who has actually read this book in manuscript form. It's not yet available in galley. And it's not the time to reveal anything about it other than, you're going to love it. Pure Garth Stein, for all the things you love in his work: strong voice, quirky characters, a little mysticism and magic, breathtaking settings in the Northwest, and a story that takes you by surprise, makes you laugh, then cry, then want to read it ...more
Kate Ayers
Sep 14, 2014 Kate Ayers rated it it was amazing
Hands down, five stars. Garth Stein doesn't pump them out, but when he does he makes sure it was worth waiting for. Well, I love a good ghost story. At least, if it's done right. This one is done right. Make that more than done right. The 14-year-old narrator, Trevor, is bright, cogent, yet has enough naivete to be believably a young teen. He has feelings that he needs to have, especially if he is to accomplish his mission: get his parents back together. At least, he starts out thinking that is ...more
Yzabel Ginsberg
(I got an ARC courtesy of NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)

A book that started well in my opinion, yet lost momentum along the way.

I liked its stifling setting, how the characters were isolated in that huge, derelict house, the feeling of entrapment (mostly through Serena, who had stayed there for her whole life and never travelled or did the things she wanted to do). Riddell House was permeated with a strong atmosphere of oppressive memories, between ghosts that may or may not exist
My computer went belly-up. Melted. Fried. Deader-than-a-doornail, Caputsville. Maybe El Nino is to blame. Or maybe it was Gremlins. Or perhaps, it gave up the ghost because it was hexed by crazy-as-a-loon Aunt Serena, the seductress of Riddell house. ;-)

Any who.... Here's my best review effort, on a smartphone.

A Sudden Light is an entertaining, somewhat wonky, mystery-sleuthing, Hardy Boyish, coming-of-age, friendly-ghost, Shakespearean tragedy, family scandal, illusionary, mystic, relatively
Oct 02, 2014 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is so much to love in A Sudden Light that is becomes difficult to review the novel without unabashed gushing. It is one of those rare novels that has it all – a spooky house, ghostly presences, an amazing background, intriguing characters, a well-executed plot, and the emotional connections necessary for any story about family. The supernatural element is never a distraction but rather enhances the ties that bind Trevor to Riddell House and his grandfather. The whole novel makes for one of ...more
Aug 22, 2014 Victoria rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit-fic, family
In October of 2010, I read Stein’s much talked-about novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain. Even as a dog-lover, I think the hype over-reached the book’s actuality. But, the premise of his latest novel - a crumbling family home just outside of Seattle, set in 1990 with a fourteen year old protagonist - is an intriguing one. So hopeful that my previous disappointment related more to the high expectations, I look forward to reading this one. Unfortunately, it too is rather disappointing. While the ...more
Larry Hoffer
Jun 30, 2014 Larry Hoffer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Full disclosure: I received an advance readers copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

When you're growing up, you rarely give much thought to your family history or your ancestry. In some cases, you have no idea (through no fault of your own) what your family history is, because of the myriad tensions and estrangements that characterize many families.

That is definitely the case for 14-year-old Trevor Riddell. In the summer of 1990, strained by financial problems, his
Nov 18, 2014 Lilisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, u-s
I loved The Art of Racing in the Rain so when I came across this book by Garth Stein, I opted to read it although the synopsis didn’t wow me…and neither did the book. Fourteen-year old Trevor Riddell accompanies his dad Jones Riddell to the Pacific Northwest, the objective being to sort out Jones’ personal and family issues – and there are aplenty, including his sister Serena, his dad Samuel, unsettled family ghosts and the sprawling Riddell House with its eerie, creaky, dusty and cavernous secr ...more
The Haunted Reading Room {Cthulhu Down the Chimney Tonight}

I had never before read any of Garth Stein 's novels, though I own a Kindle copy of THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN. From the first pages of A SUDDEN LIGHT I was enraptured, fascinated, and engrossed. This is a very special novel, an exceptional one. With a plethora of delicately peeled character studies, a multiply hot-button plot, and the ease with which history intertwines with contemporary, and Supernatural with consensus reality--not to mention truly Faulk
Sep 19, 2014 Jacqie rated it it was ok
While I really enjoyed The Art of Racing in the Rain, I don't think that lightning struck twice for this author with this book.

What's the book about? It's a ghost story,it's a man's story, it's environmentalism,it's Jane Eyre. And what do I mean by all this?

It's a ghost story. It seems that lately there are lots of books around that are trying to update the gothic, and here it's done in the Pacific Northwest. Riddell House (yes, it's that obvious) was built over one hundred years ago, and it ha
Nov 01, 2014 Melissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are so many reasons why I enthusiastically recommend reading A SUDDEN LIGHT. The prose of this novel is enchanting and matches the dream like state of Riddell House. The plot, which blends historical fiction, ghost story and family saga, is riveting as the Riddell family secrets are slowly unraveled to us through a series of old letters, diary entries and dreams. Finally, the multi-dimensional characters cause you to have an emotional attachment to them and you will be sorry to see them go ...more
Sep 12, 2014 LibraryReads rated it it was amazing
Shelves: october-2014
“Garth Stein has given us a masterpiece. This beautiful story takes readers on a thrilling exploration of a family estate brimming with generations of riveting Riddell family ghosts and secrets. This is a true exploratory novel, taking readers through secret passageways, hidden rooms, and darkened corridors that engage all of the senses.”

Whitney Gayle, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT
Aug 14, 2014 Sofia rated it liked it
Read this review on my blog
The main character in “A Sudden Light” is Trevor, a fourteen-year-old boy, who spends the summer in his family’s giant estate. His father and aunt are trying to convince their ailing father to sell it, since it’s very valuable and they’re poor. However, the house is haunted by the ghost of Ben, the son of the family’s patriarch, Elijah Riddell. Here’s the thing: Ben believes that the North Estate ought to be returned to nature after the family stops living there, and h
Judy Collins
A special thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Master storyteller and filmmaker, Garth Stein delivers his latest novel, A Sudden Light, a haunting family saga, set in Puget Sound (love this area), near Seattle, in the Pacific Northwest. Centered around The Riddell House, a 100-year-old mansion (falling apart), and acres of forest, narrated by the voice of smart, 14 yr. old Trevor Riddell, a boy seeking desperately to save his parent’s marri
Jul 07, 2014 Laurie rated it it was amazing
When Jones Riddell goes bankrupt and loses his house, he and his wife have a trial separation. Rachel returns to her home in England, while Jones takes his son, Trevor, back to the Riddell family home: North Estate and the Riddell House on Puget Sound, just outside Seattle proper. At the turn of the 20th century, Riddell House was an amazing mansion, built with the proceeds from exploiting the old growth timber that covered the Pacific Northwest. Now it’s termite eaten and unkept up; there is no ...more
Apr 21, 2015 Pamellia rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys a good story
Recommended to Pamellia by: Goodread friend, Connie
Shelves: 2015
he Sudden Light by Garth Stein
April 12 through April 17, 2015
Internet friend recommendation

The past few weeks have been difficult for me when it comes to reading. I opened up book after book offered by authors that I have always appreciated. Nothing fit. I closed nearly all those books having no interest at all. Then a Goodread friend suggested The Sudden Light by Garth Stein and I figured I might as well try it and am glad I did.

The book is advertized as a ghost story and it is, but not in the
Jul 27, 2014 Ellinor rated it really liked it
Fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell and his father arrive at the ancient family home, Riddell-House. For Trevor it's the first time at this place and also the first time he meets his grandfather and his aunt, Serena, who still live there. The purpose of the visit is to persuade Trevor's grandfather to leave the house and sell it so that the rest of the family will receive some badly needed money.
The Riddell family once was one of the big-shots in the wood and timber business in Washington state. Ri
this was a good story but I was more interested in the current family and less of the diary and past.
SoWrongItsRANDI {Bell, Book & Candle}
I received this ARC from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review

After his father and mother have separated, Trevor Riddell and his father, Jones, move back to the Jones's family home. There, Trevor meets his peculiar Aunt Serena and supposed Alzheimer's suffering grandfather, Samuel. Unsure as to why his father has brought him to the childhood home Jones rarely speaks about, Trevor begins to investigate into the family's secrets; uncovering shocking discoveries.

Wow this book was
Tom Mathews
Mar 13, 2015 Tom Mathews rated it really liked it
Plot Summary: 14 year-old Trevor Riddell finds himself in the middle of a multi-generational family quarrel over the disposition of a rambling old mansion overlooking Washington’s Puget Sound. His Grandpa Samuel, the estate’s owner, is showing signs of dementia and resisting efforts by his children to sell off the property to developers. Everybody has their opinion as to what should be done, including the ghost of Trevor’s great grand-uncle Ben. Ben is the son of a timber baron who became rich ...more
Jan 29, 2015 Patty rated it it was amazing
A Sudden Light
Garth Stein

Key characters...

I would say that the entire Riddell family...all of the alive ones and quite a few of the not alive ones...are key characters in this lovely book. Trevor...14 year old Trevor...seems to be the chief narrator.


Most of this book takes place in rainy forest laden the massive yet deteriorating Riddell Mansion.

Simply put...what's going down...

Trevor's family...literally is falling apart. They are financially bankrupt...his parents a
In 1990, at the age of 14 Trevor Riddell discovers that his family were once quite wealthy. His great great grandfather Elijah Riddell had built a massive fortune on harvesting timber from the pristine forests of the Puget Sound in Washington State. Facing bankruptcy and the end of his marriage, Trevor's father Jones takes Trevor to the crumbling old family mansion in the last reserve of Pacific Northwest forest to try to talk his father Samuel into selling the land to property developers.

Sep 02, 2014 Sarah rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Martha Bullen
Jan 23, 2015 Martha Bullen rated it really liked it
Garth Stein's phenomenally successful novel The Art of Racing in the Rain has attracted millions of fans around the world. I can understand why ... it's a wonderful book.

I was fortunate to meet Garth Stein and receive an advance copy of his new book, A Sudden Light, at Book Expo in May. I made the mistake of saying "I loved The Art of Racing in the Rain," when I met him, and I thought I saw him wince. That must get old for authors when everyone is fixated on one of your books, and you're ready t
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Garth Stein is the author of four novels: the New York Times bestselling gothic/historical/coming-of-age/ghost story, "A Sudden Light"; the internationally bestselling "The Art of Racing in the Rain"; the PNBA Book Award winner, "How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets"; and the magically realistic "Raven Stole the Moon." He is also the author of the stage play "Brother Jones." He has a dog, ...more
More about Garth Stein...

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“Perhaps that's what life is about--the search for such a connection. The search for magic. The search for the inexplicable. Not in order to explain it, or contain it. Simply in order to feel it. Because in that recognition of the sublime, we see for a moment the entire universe in the palm of our hand. And in that moment, we touch the face of God.” 12 likes
“We are all connected. The living to the nonliving, as the nonliving to the living. All things in all directions in all times. It is only in the physical dimension that we have limitations. (The membrane between us is thinner than you think.)” 9 likes
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