The Dark is Rising

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Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising is the first in a sequence of four: The Dark is Rising, Greenwitch, The Grey King, and Silver on the Tree (with a connected prequel, Over Sea, Under Stone). I mentioned the books to Ethan a while ago, remembering how much I enjoyed them as a child. I can’t say I remembered much about them, but they were good. Ethan bought them behind my back and surprised me with the series!

The Dark is Rising follows an eleven-year-old boy, Will Stanton, as he discovers that he is the last of the Old Ones, a race of immortals bound to protect the world against the forces of the Dark. While little is explained outright, the reader (and Will) gradually comes to understand how the Dark works, what is expected of Will, and how he can collect the Signs he needs to keep the Dark at bay as it tries to overcome him.

The book is a wonderful fantasy, especially for a young child hoping to be able to feel like the hero of the story. As an adult, however, I find the book just as enticing as it was when I was little. Susan Cooper does a great job of weaving the known and the unknown, the fantastic and the real, and makes common mythology come to life and gives it a spin of her own. While many of her ideas seem to come from Pagan traditions, she doesn’t seem to argue against any religious beliefs except ignorance or selfishness, and the result is a rich supernatural fantasy epic.

Another thing I really like about The Dark is Rising: it leaves me wanting to read Greenwitch, but not needing to. I don’t like click-bait. I don’t like feeling manipulated. I don’t want an author to make me feel like I have to go buy the sequel. But at the end of this book, I feel enough closure to stop there, but just enough excitement that I don’t want to. I want to read more. As such, you can probably expect a review of Greenwitch within the next few weeks. ♦

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