The Dark is Rising


The Dark is Rising in Susan Cooper’s classical fantasy series and the only thing that can stop it are the combined forces of a group of modern children (well 1960s children) and the heroes of Arthurian legends.

I have recently spent some enjoyable days with Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series (well, four out of five books in it, I somehow missed the first one at the library). There are some parts that felt a little dated but overall this is a classic series that have stood the test of time very well, I’m sure I would have loved it as a child. As an adult I greatly enjoyed the first book I read in the series (Over Sea Under Stone) but lost interest a bit when it came to the sequels. I don’t think they are actually worse in any way but to me the real draw was the world-building and the mixture of modern children and Arthurian legends. This theme runs through the entire series but in the sequels it was no longer new and therefore less exciting.

As these are children’s books they are not too heavy on the darkness which I’m sure was a good choice for the intended audience. Personally I would have preferred them to be somewhat more nerve-racking. Nevertheless these are well-written and fun books with a good concept which worked reasonably well as a light read also for an adult reader.

What the series also did succeed in was to convince me that I want to learn more about the Arthurian legends (sometime, eventually). I’m not British and my knowledge of these legends can basically be summarized as a bunch of names and a sword in a stone which is somehow important.

I count Over Sea Under Stone (published in 1965) as my children’s classic in the 2018 back to the classics challenge.

13 thoughts on “The Dark is Rising

  1. I last read this in the late 60s or early 70s and can’t remember too much about it, but having relatively recently reread and reviewed ‘Over Sea, Under Stone’ I got a new copy of TDIR to go to next. It’s still waiting … but I will probably be more alert to the subtleties this around, especially the Arthuriana!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wonder if I did read Over Sea Under Stone as a child, if so I don’t have any real memory of it, just a vague familiarity.

      It was perfect for a relaxed read anyway but I can imagine there being plenty more to find when you know your Arthuriana!


  2. One of my favorite series! I actually enjoy the two books set in Wales the best — I think Bran is just such an interesting character, and I also really enjoyed the description of Welsh language and mythology — but I do definitely agree that there’s a slower pace in the middle, especially after The Dark Is Rising gets done introducing Will.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Dark Is Rising is the one I managed to miss which may have influenced my views on the later books. I know the library has it and I could use something lighter to read after I finish my current book so I expect to get to it soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I know this is a classic series, but I read all the books and my only memory is one of extreme boredom. I feel like I’m missing something about the books that everyone gets but me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many lovers probably read it as a child and loved it then. I never read it this series as a child but I really enjoy revisiting well-written childhood favourites. The good ones give me the double pleasure of remembering how much I loved them as a child and discovering all the things I missed.


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