Book Reviews: The Dark Is Rising

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Dark is Rising
By Susan Cooper

Young Will Stanton finds out on his 11th birthday that he is one of the "Old Ones." He and the others must find the six signs that will give them the power to keep the "dark" evil forces from gaining control of the world.

To be honest, I'm a bit surprised that this is the second book in the series. It seems like the obvious choice for the first book. Over Sea, Under Stone explains much less of the mythology of the series and perhaps that's why it's the first books in the series, but it still seems like an odd choice to me. The three Drew children we meet in the first book don't appear in this one at all. Uncle Merry returns in this book though and I was happy to get more of his character.

Cooper's writing is ripe with suspense and it's a much darker tale than the first book. It reminds me a bit of the Chronicles of Narnia (which is a good thing) in which good and evil are clearly defined forces and children must help conquer evil. I was swept away by the story and I particularly liked seeing the contradictory life that Will is forced to live. At only 11-years-old he understands his destiny and has huge responsibility, yet his family doesn't know so he must still act like a carefree child around them.

I have three more books in the series and will definitely be finishing it.

"There was something about Christmas Eve that demanded company; one needed somebody to whisper to, during the warm beautiful dream-taut moments between hanging the empty stocking at the end of the bed, and dropping into the cosy oblivion that would flower into the marvel of Christmas morning."

p.s. This is a famous British series (much more well-known over there) and this book won the Newbery award in 1974. I wonder if Will, who we meet at age 11, might have inspired bits of Harry Potter.


Beth said...

My 16 year old daughter has read this countless times since she was about 7. She loves the whole series. Maybe I should give it a try!

Shelley said...

Whenever somebody reviews one of these books it makes me want to reread the series. Over Sea, Under Stone is so very different than any of the other books--it has a very different tone. I liked it though.

Allie said...

This is one of those series that I wish I would have read as a child. I think I would have loved it! But I am glad I discovered it when I did, and before the movie came out (I haven't seen it, but I heard it was awful).

I really enjoyed the rest of the series too. Grey King was marvelous!

Jeanne said...

I've read this countless times since I was 7, too! I remember being disappointed that the next one wasn't about Will, but grew to appreciate how different each one is, while intricately related.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Shelley - I liked it too, but it is completely different.

Allie - I agree. I think I would have loved this even more as a kid. I remember being completely enchanted by the Narnia books when I was in grade school and I'm sure this would have been similar.

Can't wait to read the rest of the series.