A Sudden Light
Simon & Schuster, Sep 30 2014, $26.95
As he nears his fortieth birthday, Jones Riddell separates from his wife Rachel. For the first time since his father exiled him after the teenager’s mother Isobel died over two decades ago back in 1967, Jones, accompanied by his fourteen years old son Trevor, heads to his family mansion, Riddell House in Washington State; Trevor arrives for the first time. Financially strapped Jones and his sister Serena want to sell the estate, but first they must remove their uncooperative father Samuel to a nursing home. Though he is not mentally what he once was, Samuel refuses to leave his home where generations of Riddell’s have resided since they made a fortune in timber.
Trevor hopes his parents reconcile as he misses having both parents. Meanwhile, fascinated by the estate and his ancestry, the teen learns about his paternal family when he finds the diary of his late great-Uncle Ben’s lover Harry and of the curse that began with Samuel’s avarice grandfather Elijah.
A Sudden Light is a fascinating family drama that looks closely at several generations of Riddell’s still residing, some as ghosts, in the mansion as told by Trevor assisted by timely spirits’ soliloquys. Although at times Trevor’s narration seems to mature and accepting for his youth (in spite of a coda explanation) more insight into the hauntings would be welcome. This is an intriguing epic.