Review – The Dark is Rising

Posted December 20, 2015 by Nicky in Reviews / 8 Comments

The Dark is Rising by Susan CooperThe Dark is Rising, Susan Cooper

Slightly ahead of the ideal time to read this book — which would be veeery slowly, a chapter or two at a time, over the Twelve Days of Christmas. I never have the patience for that! As usual, I loved The Dark is Rising; the quiet moments of enchantment, the beautiful writing, the warmth of the family relationships and the reality of the bickering, protective group of siblings. There’s more adult, complicated stuff as well as simple squabbling among siblings: the whole relationship between Merriman and Hawkin is a difficult one, and foreshadows what John Rowlands says about the Light in a later book. The morality of the Light is a cold, clear justice.

One thing I noticed a lot this time, though, was how Britain-centric the sequence is. Every so often it’ll make a reference to other parts of the world — the Jamaican carnival head, the darker skinned Old Ones, etc — but it talks about the battle for “this land”. As though the struggle between Light and Dark throughout history is focused on Britain. I’m not sure that’s an attitude that can really fly anymore, however simple and obvious it may have seemed when the books were originally written. I love how rooted the books are in Britain, the landscape and the people and the different histories that intertwine, the Anglo-Saxon and the Celtic, the Roman. But the focus on Britain as the whole centre of the fight against the Dark seems short-sighted.

Still, that is the other thing to love: the glimpses of mythology surrounding the books. Not just the Arthurian mythology, but the mysterious king whose dead hands held the Sign of Water for Will; the lore of the smiths; the Old Ways; Herne the hunter… I wish I could read beyond the pages into all that richness.

Rating: 5/5

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8 responses to “Review – The Dark is Rising

  1. Arbie

    I think Cooper captures the relationships between fairly large (3+ members) groups of siblings (particularly the bickering!) better than anybody else I can think of. It was something that I really noted last time I read this sequence.

    • I looooove the whole sequence — and I always try and reread this book around this time of year, because it fits perfectly! Thanks for dropping by.

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