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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best young persons books ever written.
At the risk of being overly dramatic this book changed my life. I had never been fond of reading before when, aged 12, I found this book whilst waiting for my father in the local libary. In contrast to the books we had been forced to read at school I found it utterly gripping. Very exciting and mysterious all written from a young teenage point of view. I felt like the...
Published on 31 July 2000

versus
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars With apologies to the book's fans, I have a very different view
Reading all the enthusiastic reviews, I am clearly out-numbered but give me a fair hearing and I will help you decide whether to buy it.

I didn't have a problem with the story. It is reasonably interesting and well crafted. The problem is the prose. I have read a huge number of children's novels aloud to children and I have enjoyed nearly all of them* except...
Published on 18 April 2007 by hfffoman


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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best young persons books ever written., 31 July 2000
By A Customer
At the risk of being overly dramatic this book changed my life. I had never been fond of reading before when, aged 12, I found this book whilst waiting for my father in the local libary. In contrast to the books we had been forced to read at school I found it utterly gripping. Very exciting and mysterious all written from a young teenage point of view. I felt like the author was writing about a world I wished was out there waiting for me to fall into an adventure in. I devoured this book and the rest of the series and have not stopped reading since. A must for all, Susan Cooper transports you to this strange world where things are never as they seem and there are dark undertones. I could compare it to a young version of the start of Weaveworld (clive barker) but that would do it an injustice since it is both richer and darker.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't dismiss this book!, 24 July 2000
By 
N. Paulson "robinhood36" (United Kingdom,Midlands) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I first read "The Dark is Rising" as an 11 year old (I'm now 35),and with each successive reading (it must be 20 odd times now) I feel it's bewitching spell more and more.Ok,so Harry Potter is pretty cool (I've enjoyed all four),but JK Rowling can't match Susan Cooper's ability to create mood and atmosphere, and to be geniunely frightening.... Don't just stop at this one, get the other four too (Over Sea,Under Stone / Greenwitch / The Grey King(*****)/Silver on the Tree....)You'll not be disappointed,but it may take 25 years to get there! Happy reading
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterful book, one to be cherished., 10 Jan 2001
By 
D. Kenworthy "Maraque" (London UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I first read this book when I was 9 years old. Unfortunatley the school prevented my teacher finishing the book as he the governers had recieved complaints from parents that it was full of pagan tradition and heathen beliefs. PAH! we say loudly, the book does not go against any religion and certainly not against the Christian values the plaintiffs were so eager to protect. the book acknowledges the church as a place of the light, a place safe fromt he dark forces of the world. What more do you want? Luckily my teacher lived ont he same road as me and leant me a copy my unevolved headmaster had not burned. Anyway, the book grips you from the start and transports you from the grey world of english winter nt he stark white snowy world of fantasy. Susan cooper not only uses her characters imaginativley but creates atmosphere that is both compelling and traumatically beutiful. My advice - Read when your young, read when your old and always own a copy to transform those winter nights curled up by the fire. YOU NEED THIS BOOK!!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't be put off by the film, 5 Nov 2007
By 
Daren Collins (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
As a child, 'Over Sea, Under Stone' was by far my favourite book and years later in my twenties, I went looking for it for nostagic reasons. I was pleasantly suprised to find that there were 4 other books in the series, of which the Dark is Rising is the second.

Even as an adult, I love 'The Dark is Rising', which is the pick of the series for me.

As the cold winter nights draw in, I often get this one out and re-live it.

I find myself in each scene that Susan Cooper weaves - decorating the Christmas tree with a big bustling family around, walking down the lane with Will Stanton on the winter morning he comes of age, as a blanket of newly fallen snow lays all around. I can even see the light from a working Smithy up ahead, which wasn't there before - the scene is from the past but the people seem to be from the present...

But danger is never far away, should you start feeling too cosy. As a child I used to have to leave the snug warmth of the fireside and go out into the cold, pitch black, wild, wintry night to get more coal for the fire. It was kept in an unlit shed some distance away from the house and it was a bit scary until the warm glow of the house was back in sight.
This is how the book feels.

The large Stanton family are the normalising, comforting factor in young Will's life but even they are slowly being dragged into the clutches of the Dark unless Will can find the 6 signs that he was born to do before the power of the Dark reaches it's peak (which I think is 12 days after Christmas)

Unfortunately the film, in addition to forgetting some of the main characters, forgetting that the Stantons are BRITISH and having a hammy ending, rips out the entire soul of the book by simply concentrating on "the quest", rather than the characters (who are mis-cast in the main).

So in summary, don't be put off by the film. I can't give a higher recommendation to get this book for anyone aged 10 onwards.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest books of our times., 8 Sep 2001
By A Customer
I first read this book in school; unfortunately my class never finished it, but I tracked down a copy in my local libary, because I didn`t think I would ever sleep again if I didn`t read the ending. The book grips you from begining to end, thanks to some of the best atmospheric detail ever written (In my opinion). Despite the fact it was written quite a few years ago, it still retains all of it`s dark intrigue. One of the few books that can render the reader powerless untill the last page. Unmissable.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Midwinter's dream, 31 Dec 2005
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Susan Cooper has yet to equal "The Dark is Rising," the second book of her classic Dark is Rising Sequence. Independent of the first book "Over Sea Under Stone," this is also darker, more magical, more intense, and one of the most beautifully written fantasy novels in existance.

Will Stanton is an ordinary boy, until his Midwinter eleventh birthday. On that day, he ventures out into a seemingly changed world. There, he encounters a sinister Dark Rider, then a beautiful white horse that leads him to a hidden place, where he finds two of the Old Ones -- the mysterious Lady and Merriman Lyon, one of the stars of the previous book. The Old Ones are immortal, powerful, wise, and it turns out that Will is the last one born.

And as an astonishingly cold winter settles over England, Will is taught some of the ways of the Old Ones, who fight the Dark (forces of evil, like the Dark Rider). He has one of the signs of power, but must get them all: Iron, Bronze, Stone, Wood, Fire and Water. And he must contend with the Dark Rider, his own failings, and a mysterious stranger whose future is inextricably entwined with his...

Susan Cooper is at her peak here. Will Stanton's adventures have a sense of unreal mystery and magic about them, where the slightest actions can have significance, time is easily manipulated, and two kinds of reality intersect. Welsh mythos and legend is interwoven more deeply here, including hints of the Arthurian tilt that was featured more prominently in "Over Sea, Under Stone." At the same time, Cooper accurately displays a more human side of Will, the side that is deeply attached to his family and home.

Her writing also becomes much more detailed here. In her first Dark is Rising novel, Cooper's writing was relatively spare and lacking in detail. Here, she more than makes up for it with intricate details about the halls of the Old Ones, the bustling farmhouse, and the eerie woods where the Walker wanders.

Nowhere to be found is the British-kids-on-holiday atmosphere. It's replaced by an warm atmosphere, and one of shocking, powerful magic. This isn't magic infringing on our world, but rather Will stepping from one to another. Her dialogue is more believable, even the little old lady bleating about the snowstorm; and Will tends to think, act, and talk like an eleven-year-old boy who is aged before his time.

Will himself is an astonishingly three-dimensional character: he flips between being a smart, quiet eleven-year-old to being an Old One, with all the power that suggests. This transition is not one that is handled lightly, as he gradually loses his innocent, boyish outlook and learns more about the battle between evil and good. Merriman Lyon is a more majestic character than in "Over Sea, Under Stone," and the reader gets a saddening view of the sacrifices he's had to make for his battle against the Dark.

Susan Cooper does an astonishing job with "The Dark is Rising," a spellbinding fantasy that secured the Dark is Rising Sequence as a classic. Truly an entrancing, magical novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Found it at last, 18 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Dark is Rising (Paperback)
I love this book. I first saw it many years ago when my son brought it home from school. I've been trying to get a copy for some time and at last I have. I've given it to my grandson so that's 3 generations now.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rider and the Dark, 11 Sep 2007
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Dark is Rising (Paperback)
Susan Cooper has yet to equal "The Dark is Rising," the second book of her classic Dark is Rising Sequence. Too bad the movie adaptation looks like a hollow "Harry Potter" ripoff.

That whole attitude betrays the beauty and spirit of her second "Dark is Rising Sequence" novel, which is independent of her the first book "Over Sea Under Stone." This book is deeper, darker, more dreamlike, more intense, and with an unlikely hero -- a stunning battle between good and evil.

Will Stanton is an ordinary boy, until his Midwinter eleventh birthday. On that day, he ventures out into a seemingly changed world, encounters a sinister Dark Rider, then a beautiful white horse that leads him to a hidden place. There he encounters the Old Ones -- the mysterious Lady and Merriman Lyon, who are immortal, powerful, wise, and the guardians of the world. And it turns out Will is one too.

And as an astonishingly cold winter settles over England, Will is taught some of the ways of the Old Ones, who fight the Dark (forces of evil, like the Dark Rider). He has one of the signs of power, but must get them all: Iron, Bronze, Stone, Wood, Fire and Water. And he must contend with the Dark Rider, his own failings, and a mysterious stranger whose future is inextricably entwined with his...

To put it simply, this is Susan Cooper at her peak -- she creates an amazing look at a world where where the mysterious and magical exist just a few feet from our homes and. The slighest actions have significance, time is easily manipulated, and there's a sprinkling of Welsh myth and Arthurian legend here and there -- particularly at the end.

Since her first book, Cooper also became a truly brilliant writer -- in "Over Sea Under Stone," her writing was rather spare, and reeked of E. Nesbit. Here, she more than makes up for it -- while the story is a straightforward quest, she complicates matters with a subplot about Merriman being forced to make a terrible sacrifice, and the Dark threatening Will's family. Sometimes being on the good guys' side isn't easy.

The book is also thick with atmosphere -- the shocking, icy presence of the Dark, the bustling farmhouse, the eerie woods where the Walker goes, and countless other situations. Cooper does sometimes get too detailed (I really don't care how you feed chickens) but her intricate writing is what brings the book to life: the howling blizzards, rings of black birds, the tainted merriness of a Christmas party, and a book of ancient magic that can't be read -- only experienced.

Will himself is an astonishingly three-dimensional character: at times he's a smart, quiet eleven-year-old, and sometimes he's an Old One with immense power and wisdom. This transition is not one that is handled lightly, as he gradually loses his innocent, boyish outlook. The person who guides him is Merriman Lyon, a majestic old man who has made some terrible choices in the past.

"The Dark is Rising" is a spellbinding classic fantasy, which fully reveals the good vs. evil battle that Cooper only hinted at before. Entrancing, intoxicatingly written, and always magical.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It has the power to wisk the mind away to mystical places., 24 Jan 1997
By A Customer
I first read this novel at the request of my sixth grade teacher at TASIS in Surrey, England. Immediately after I began reading Cooper's book, I was swept away from the dreary fog and rain typical of Woking's weather. Upon finishing the first chapter, I was caught up in a mystical world of fairytale espionage between good and evil.
Cooper's talent for intertwining the supernatural with reality kept me from putting the book down until the very end. Has not every child wished he/she led a "secret" life, had magical powers, and had a significant part in the world around them? By simply reading Cooper's book, a child can attain all three. I did!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars With apologies to the book's fans, I have a very different view, 18 April 2007
By 
hfffoman (Kent) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Reading all the enthusiastic reviews, I am clearly out-numbered but give me a fair hearing and I will help you decide whether to buy it.

I didn't have a problem with the story. It is reasonably interesting and well crafted. The problem is the prose. I have read a huge number of children's novels aloud to children and I have enjoyed nearly all of them* except for this. After several reading sessions where my audience was losing interest, I had to go through the rest of the book with a pen, deleting about half the words in order to make it readable.

I am not normally critical of writing and feel unkind being so negative here but I did not imagine the flaws I bemoan. Reading The Dark is Rising is like listening to someone who talks with excessive mannerisms - at first you don't notice it, but once you do it grabs your attention until you want to run screaming from the room. I read it right to the end but only because we were travelling and had run out of books.

For anyone interested here are some comments on modern versus old children's fiction.

Some reviewers of this book have defended it by complaining that today's children have lower attention spans. This is certainly not the reason that my group of seven children and I disliked Susan Cooper's writing. I read the whole of Lord of the Rings to the same children, (before it was made popular by the films). It demands enormous attention (and has some problems with its own writing) yet they listened with interest.

Modern writers use much more sophisticated language than Susan Cooper. Try reading a page from the Dark is Rising and then a page from Jonathan Stroud's "Amulet of Samarkand". Jonathan Stroud uses a richer more mature language and yet it grabs you with its clarity and vividness - as do many modern children's writers. Try Mortal Engines, Northern Lights, Song Quest or, outside the adventure genre the writing of Katherine Patterson, Michael Morpurgo, Sharon Creech, and Ruth Thomas. These are all easily accessible and in my view incomparably better prose than Susan Cooper. My audience listened to Bridge to Terabithia for two hours solid and loved it. That is perhaps the best testament to good prose you can get.

It does seem that a lot of the support for this book is nostalgic. Many, if not most, of the enthusiastic reviews of The Dark is Rising are adults who read it as children. They are entitled to love the book but their recommendations are driven by nostalgia and the standards they held at the time.

(* For the record, I have read one other children's book that is equally badly written - Children of the Lamp, the Akhenaten Adventure.)
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The Dark Is Rising (Dark Is Rising Sequence)
The Dark Is Rising (Dark Is Rising Sequence) by Susan Cooper (Audio CD - 28 Aug 2007)
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