on 31 July 2000
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.
on 5 November 2007
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.
on 24 July 2000
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
I've posted this review, in basically this form, for all five of the "Dark is Rising" CD audiobook sets, because there aren't many other reviews of the CD sets. I have all five sets and have been uniformly pleased with the audio quality.
I'll skip any summary of this book or of the series; dozens of reviewers have done that quite well. I assume that you are familiar with these books, probably have read this volume, (likely more than once), but now wish to have the book available as an audio CD. Perhaps a long car trip is in the offing? Good for you.
I am happy to report that, at least for me, this audio version gets high marks across the board.
First, I can hear it and understand it. No mushy sound recording. No odd imbalance in volume that requires you to keep turning the volume up and then down. All of the spoken words are crisp and clear.
Second, there are no sound effects or such folderol.
Third, there is a single reader. This is not a play for voices and is not read by a number of different character actors.
Fourth, Richard Mitchley is an effective reader. There are a lot of Welsh characters in this book and Mitchley gets that across without being so authentic in his accents that he becomes hard to understand. His approach is flavorful but not overly dramatic. Much like Alex Jennings, who read the other four books, he is not coy or arch, and does not ham up any of the big scenes. He succeeds in establishing a distinct and recognizable identity for each character.
Finally, the reading is very respectful. By that I mean the book is not read as though it were just some silly children's book. It is treated as the triumphant work that it is and this adds greatly to its weight and impact.
Please note that like all of the CD books this reading is unabridged. There are 5 compact discs. Runtime is a bit over
on 10 January 2001
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!!
on 8 September 2001
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.
on 26 December 2012
At the younger end of my teens, this book and the series of the same name were some of my absolute favourite works. It's an epic five part series about the battle between "the dark" and "the light," mixing tales of modern teenagers (well, modern when it was written in the seventies) with Arthurian and other British/Celtic legends. I re-read it recently and wasn't disappointed.
The book spans the period from Midwinter's Eve (December 21st) to Twelfth Night (January 6th) and has an incredible sense of time and place. It's probably my favourite written depiction of Christmas and the surrounding period.
The hero, Will Stanton, celebrates his eleventh birthday on Midwinters's Day, and discovers he has amazing powers and a great destiny. But this is only one part of who he is - he's also the youngest child of a family of nine, who live a rambling upper-middle class existence in a Buckinghamshire farmhouse.
In large part, his Christmas is utterly idyllic and lovingly described: going out with his father to collect a Yule log, buying and decorating a huge royal Christmas tree from a farmer neighbour, trudging back through the snow laden with Christmas presents, journeying through the village on Christmas Eve singing carols by candlelight to all the neighbours and enjoying punch and mince-pies at the local Manor House. The family dynamic - both the love and the bickering - is wonderfully depicted, as is the village's sense of community.
All of this however is interwoven with the sinister threat of the Dark (a sort of all purpose eternal evil), Will's quest to collect the mystical signs that can defeat them and ancient British folklore. There's also a wonderful blurring of the mystical and the everyday - the holly over the mantelpiece that the family regard as a Christmas tradition but Will knows is a protection against the Dark, the singing of carols helping to keep evil at bay.
The Victorians loved a spooky story at Christmas, and here, the fear and struggles of the battle against evil only make the joyous family times more profound.It's definitely aimed at a fairly young audience - after all, the main character is eleven, and I've always thought that with most books, the protagonist's age is a good guide to the intended reading age. Perhaps my continued love of it is based at least in part on nostalgia for the first time I read and enjoyed it. Nonetheless, I think a first time adult reader would still enjoy this as an easy read - I'd especially recommend it as a pre-Christmas read to get you feeling Christmassy.
Finally, this is part of a series, and I'd recommend the whole thing - the Grey King is possibly even better.
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.
on 9 January 2014
I read this kids' book some years ago( as an adult) and loved it - well written, fleshed out characters and a clever intermingling of modern life and myth. Although the end is somewhat predictable (as one of five novels in a set of the same name, one expects the main character to survive and become part of the story in some of the other books) - it's an immensely enjoyable read and Cooper makes you care about the character of Will Stanton.The first book ("Under Sea, Over Stone") comes across as being written for somewhat younger readers but this second book and the following three, although simplistic in their outlook, could be read by both adults and 'young people' with equal enjoyment. Cooper paints very sharp images - so much so, that I'd advise you to read the short section about Will's experience at night with the skylight and snow in a well lit room - creepy.
Do read the rest of the series - it's worth it and, yes, we do see Will again!
on 18 May 2013
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.