REVIEW: The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

It’s Midwinter’s Eve, the night before Will Stanton’s eleventh birthday. But there’s a threatening atmosphere all around him in the familiar countryside. Will is about to make a shocking discovery – he was born with the power of the Old Ones, he is the Seeker and a guardian of the Light, and he must begin a dangerous journey to vanquish the evil magic of the Dark.

The Dark is Rising is the second book in the Dark is Rising Sequence, but much like how you can read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe without reading the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia, the same can be said for how this series works. I read The Dark Is Rising as a part of #TheDarkIsReading, a Twitter readalong set up by Robert Macfarlane and Julia Bird. As I’ve had a big bind up collection of the series sitting on my shelf for about ten years, this was the push I needed to delve into the series.

The Dark is Rising is a creepy and atmospheric book. The description is incredibly vivid and often raised a chill down my spine. It’s set in the heart of Winter and over the Christmas period and it artfully blends together the dark, eerie nights with the family and warmth of Christmas. Having these two elements juxtaposed adds an extra level of danger and consequence to the task Will must complete.

Will is a young boy that has a heavy burden on his shoulders. Once he learns that he is the last of the Old Ones and what that means, he is embraces his role, but he never stops being a child. He’s an incredibly brave character who often act on his gut instinct alone.

The Dark is a truly evil and foreboding force that’s present throughout the book. The Black Rider is often the visible foe for Will and his allies, but the Dark is so much bigger than the Rider. Everything the Dark can do adds a sense of wrongness to Will’s life in the countryside, the way animals act strangely or attack people, and how harsh the weather can be, it’s all influenced by the Dark.

I’m pleased I’ve finally read The Dark is Rising and can see why it is a beloved children’s classic. It has good themes, a strong mystery and a real sense of peril. Perhaps I’d like it more if it was a formative book of my childhood, but it’s still a spooky seasonal read with an intriguing and fantastical adventure. 3/5.

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