Cooper is a natural storyteller, and all five novels grip the reader tightly.
Fantasy Book Review Book of the Month, October 2013
The Dark is Rising Sequence: Over Sea , Under Stone, The Dark Is Rising, Greenwitch, The Grey King, Silver on the Tree
Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising sequence, written between 1965 and 1977, is an example of a modern fantasy classic in the vein of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Lewis's Narnia Chronicles, Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles, and Rowling's Potter series. Culling British and Celtic folklore and mythology for inspiration, as well as her own fertile imagination, Cooper has given us a robust series of truly epic proportions
The first in the sequence, Over Sea, Under Stone, follows the adventures of Simon, Barney, and Jane on holiday in Cornwall. It is there, in the attic of the grey house, that they find an ancient clue that will point them the way to recovering one of the legendary Arthurian relics, the Holy Grail. Against them are arrayed the powers of the Dark, determined to prevent its discovery. The second book, perhaps the best known, The Dark is Rising, is the best of the sequence, a masterful tale of Will Stanton's rise to becoming a warrior for the Light. It was made into an absolutely abysmal film that should be avoided at all costs. The third and shortest book, Greenwitch, brings Jane, Barney and Simon together with Will against the dark. Book four, The Grey King, set in Wales, is as grey and atmospheric as is Wales itself, pitting Will and his friend Bran against the powers of the Grey King. The final book in the sequence, Silver on the Tree, transcends epic fantasy into the realm of grandiose myth and is one of the stranger - and better - books in the sequence.
Cooper is a natural storyteller, and all five novels grip the reader tightly, helped in this with copious amounts of mythology and spectacular prose. The prose of the second book in the series, The Dark is Rising, is some of the best I've read in its genre. The sequence is an absolute classic, and should be required reading for children between the ages of seven and fifteen. Those who are older who haven't read them yet are really missing out on something wonderful. Highly recommended.
Review by AT Ross
Peter from United States
I really enjoyed this series. I received the second book probably when I was 11 or so for Christmas. I read it several times before it sunk in that it was part of a series. All five books can stand alone. I was older, probably nearly an adult when I read the rest of the books. At 52 years old, I still reread them and enjoy them, but as an adult I can spot the inconsistencies that escaped me when I was the correct age. They are all good. My favorite is Greenwitch, I find the mythology of that one the most compelling. The Grey King is the darkest one, and most critically acclaimed, winning a Newberry award. The Dark is Rising was a Newberry honor book. Strangely I find the last book to be the weakest. It feels compressed in that a lot of plot happens in a very short time, almost as if the author wanted to be done with the series. It is high fantasy, the type that makes fundamentalist parents uncomfortable, but for children who enjoy a story with real depth, I highly recommend it start to finish.
9.3/10 from 2 reviews