Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Sudden Light (Garth Stein)

Garth Stein's A Sudden Light is a richly layered novel that truly deserves all the buzz its been getting.  Stein seamlessly interweaves multiple generations into this part ghost story, part mystery, part coming-of-age novel.

Teenager Trevor Riddell goes with his father to Riddell House, which has been in the family for a very long time.  The estate is falling apart (along with Trevor's parents' marriage), and the existing Riddells have differing ideas of what to do with it.  Stein takes his time building each of the characters and fully fleshing them out, from Grandpa Samuel, to his daughter Serena, to Trevor's father Jones, and to their long-dead ancestors.  Often, A Sudden Light is unbearably suspenseful -- the type of novel that you have to read just one more chapter before turning out the lights and going to bed.

Author Garth Stein already has written a bestselling novel (The Art of Racing in the Rain).  With the September 2014 publication of A Sudden Light, he's sure to have written another one.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Supernatural Enhancements (Edgar Cantero)

Rarely have I gone back and forth with a rating as much as I did with Edgar Cantero's The Supernatural Enhancements. On the one hand, I liked the Blair Witch Project style storytelling, told not through a straight narrative but through diary entries, voice recorder transcripts, and even invoices. I feel that this made it more suspenseful and jarring. Having said that, the plot itself is borderline ridiculous; I adore a great ghost story but the plot was so far-fetched that I often found my mind wandering. Unfortunately, this was a book that I just "got through" instead of truly enjoying.

A., a European, inherits a long-lost American relative's mansion and its contents, the relative having just committed suicide. He brings along his teenage companion, Niamh, to Axton House, which they soon learn is haunted. I never understood A. and Niamh's relationship and to me, it seriously detracted from the novel. It seemed inappropriate and was written quite seedily. They soon come across a "big" secret that happens at Axton House every year, which is really not that exciting.

I think The Supernatural Enhancements is a book that you either love or not (just check out Goodreads). The plot wasn't for me, but I still thought it was written in a creative way.