The Dark is Rising Series by Susan Cooper

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What can I say about The Dark is Rising? I like it.  It’s good.  Read it.  Nah, just kidding.  If you don’t want to know any details before reading the book, stop reading now.

For reals now, this book is a sweeping tale essentially about the fight between light and dark, good and evil.  Really that’s it in a nutshell.  More specifically it’s an Arthurian tale of magic and destiny, history and man’s free choice.  The main players are Will, the last of the Old Ones; Merriman, or Merlin; the Drew children–Simon, Jane and Barney; The Rider; Bran, Arthur’s son; and many other characters, both good and bad.  The storyline is very broad and difficult to condense into a shortened form without sounding a bit like the recitation of a boring timeline.  I’ll try to sum it up in short order, at least telling how the characters relate to one another.

The Old Ones are charged with promoting the cause of the Light (good), and pushing back the Dark (evil) when it rises, to make sure the Dark doesn’t become a dominant force.  Will is the last of the Old Ones to be born, and it is up to him to complete a quest to find the magical items needed to permanently vanquish the Dark.  The Drew children are instrumental in helping complete the quest.  Merriman helps guide Will in his various tasks.  The Rider is their main foe, though many others work with him to hinder the cause of the Light.  I don’t want to say a lot about the storyline itself, because if you’ve never read it, it’s nice to make discoveries of your own.

The Dark is Rising can be firmly classified as fantasy, but it’s what I think of as old-school fantasy.  Instead of a vastly different universe housing totally foreign people and places, the story takes place on the good old planet earth that you’re sitting on right now.  It’s fantasy very much rooted in reality.  The first two books, Over Sea, Under Stone and The Dark is Rising, are my favorites.  Greenwitch gets a little stranger, and the last two books, The Grey King and Silver on the Tree are really out-there.  It can be difficult to follow the last two books because of the sheer amount of imagery that is not rooted in reality.  Your imagination really gets a work-out.

So, I do recommend the books.  They’re entertaining, the characters are interesting, the plot has plenty of twists and turns, and the writing is well done.  Also, if you have kids, they would be  great read-aloud books to share with them.

There are some scary parts, but I don’t think it’s too scary for elementary-age kids.

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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