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42 of 44 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
5 of 7 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic tale - forget the film - this is a dark compelling story, 14 Sep 2013
By 
E. W. Carter "Ed Carter" (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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The film, a desperate attempt at cashing in on the Potter phenomenon, managed to almost completely miss the point of the book. The book is a brilliantly written story, that can be read as a stand alone book, or as part of a sequence of five. I first read this book as an 11 year old, and returned to it for my niece and nephews. They love it as much as I did.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magical read!, 13 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Dark Is Rising: Modern Classic (Kindle Edition)
Loved these books since I was a child. I have read them many times and this volume is my favourite. A brilliant mix of mythology, magic and superb writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fab, 12 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Dark Is Rising: Modern Classic (Kindle Edition)
I've read this book more times than I like to tell. Love it, not so scary now that I'm an adult but as a kid I found it exciting and scary. Highly recommend it and the whole series!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful and magical, 6 July 2013
This series of books has become part of my imaginative dna. Like Alan Garners books these have fed my love for fantasy and legendary tales. I love the way myth legend and the everyday is woven together. The books are sometimes genuinely spooky and always thrilling. The characters and landscapes are haunting. its wonderful stuff. I cant recommend these books highly enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book with a magical atmosphere., 13 Jan 2013
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M. Gallop - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Dark Is Rising: Modern Classic (Kindle Edition)
Kids of all ages should read this!
One of the original books which got me into reading.
Particularly like the legends and folklore expertly woven into the story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really good, nostalgic read, 1 Jan 2013
This review is from: The Dark Is Rising: Modern Classic (Kindle Edition)
While this is a slightly old fashioned book that could do with more character development (it is still part of a series, so perhaps we'll get more of that later), it's a good adventure with some interesting thematic exploration of good versus evil. Cooper's descriptions of the time of year are what really get me though, she conjures up the experience of mid-winter and Christmas beautifully.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An all-time favourite from my early teens that still sends shivers down my adult spine, 26 Dec 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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous story, 23 Dec 2012
Great story, second in this series of books. Read these books myself and now intriducing my chilldren to them. The reader of this book read really well; the children recognised the character from the previous 'book' by his voice. The whole family loved it. A shame the rest of the books aren't available on cd. We love listening on long journeys in the car.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars i just had to go back, 11 April 2000
I remember reading this series of books as a youngster and now am revisiting it for my own child. It captured my imagination so much that now at the ripe old age of thirty it is still is fresh in my mind. A must have for any child who enjoys magic/fantasy stories.I loved it and now so does she.
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5 of 7 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
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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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