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4.7 out of 5 stars23
4.7 out of 5 stars
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The middle book of the "Dark is Rising" sequence suffers a little from the middle-book syndrome, and a few items in it feel slightly strained. However, these are quickly swamped under by an unusual, well-written story and great character growth.

When a golden chalice (first found by the Drews in "Under Sea Over Stone") is stolen from its museum, the mysterious Old One Merriman enlists their help and the help of the youngest Old One, Will Stanton. At first, the kids don't really get along; things seem fairly uneventful, except for Jane participating in an ancient ritual in which the women of the village get together and weave a vaguely humanoid figure, the Greenwitch. The Greenwitch is then thrown into the sea, after people touch it and make a wish. Jane, followed by strange impressions of the Greenwitch, makes a very unusual wish.

But then her brothers and Will bump into someone else -- a strange painter who steals a picture of Barney's, and then lures the Drew boys into his home. He's a member of the Dark, and he forces Barney to scry out a message about the Grail for him. Then a strange, wild chaos strikes the town, with a ghost ship and the angry Greenwitch herself...

While this book is not the best of the series (the second takes that honor), it nevertheless is an excellent piece of work, as fantasy and as a study of the characters. The first chapter was a little weak; it felt too much like a part of "Over Sea Under Stone." However, this ceases as soon as Will comes on to the scene. The book then takes on a tone that seems, somehow, to balance out between the cheery children-on-holiday writing, and the chilling fantasy epic.

The Drews are better fleshed out and individualized in this book. Jane proves that Cooper is one of the few fantasy writers who can create genuinely strong female characters; this is, in a sense, her book, with her thoughts and motives as the key to the whole Greenwitch debacle. Consider it a moral message, though not a hamhanded one.

One of the more fascinating character is Will. He is clearly more comfortable with his role as an Old One, as he is more knowledgeable and smoother at handling situations with the Dark. At the same time, he's also able to shift into being a preteen boy, tapping Morse code to the Drew kids through the wall.

The writing in this book is versatile, becoming dreamy, stark, magical, frightening, or ordinary as the scene requires. Cooper takes readers under the sea, into nightmares and under a pirate attack when reality goes out of whack. Cooper's versions of magic tend to be deep, ancient and sometimes very unpredictable.

While "Greenwitch" has a slightly twee beginning, the "middle child" fantasy soon establishes itself as a chilling, enchanting fantasy. Cooper did well.
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on 17 December 2005
"Power from the green witch, lost beneath the sea..."

- from a prophecy outlining the quests within this series

Although GREENWITCH is the third of the five books within this series, it is more nearly a sequel to the first book than the second because in a way it is a completion of the individual quest begun in OVER SEA, UNDER STONE. GREENWITCH could be read without having read the second book, although having done so will give the reader a truer perspective on one of the characters introduced in that book.

Like each of the other books in the series, GREENWITCH manages to inject new complications into the six main characters' relationships with one another. At this point, five of the six have been introduced (the three Drews and Merriman Lyon in the first book, Will Stanton in the second), but the Drews have never met Will, and as his presence is not explained to them, they naturally resent him a great deal at first as an unwelcome intruder (unaware that he knows more about what's going on than they do, despite how matters appear on the surface). The presence of the Drews makes the story particularly enjoyable, as they provide a genuine Everyman point of view amid all the mysteries of this series of quests and battles against the Dark, in contrast to the equally interesting but different perspective of the more knowledgeable and powerful characters.

In a way, the story picks up exactly where the first book ended, but in a very different mood - the Drews are standing in the same place in the British Museum and looking at the same thing, but in dejection rather than triumph. For the Trewissick grail discovered in the first book has been stolen by a mysterious agent of the Dark, who hopes to complete the quest left unfinished the previous summer, an agent about whom even Merriman and Will know very little.

As in each book in the series, this quest takes place at one of the great festivals of the Celtic year, here the spring festival still observed in Trewissick by the making of the Greenwitch, a great leafy image made by the village women in a single night and ceremonially thrown into the sea upon the fishermen's return at dawn. Unknown to the villagers, the Greenwitch belongs to the Wild Magic, a force not allied to either the Light or the Dark in their long struggle, and of which we have seen little in the series up to this point.

And the Greenwitch - which awakens each year after being given to the sea, and has a brief, independent, and immensely lonely existence before being swept out to the deeps - has its own agenda, which like the Wild Magic is independent of the needs and desires of either Light or Dark, and like it must be persuaded rather than compelled to cooperate. The Greenwitch's character is particularly compelling - it depends on humans for its very existence, but its few days of independent life each year are so bitterly lonely that it easily feels resentment against everything else in the world, for allowing it to be made and then cast out uncomforted.

Most unfortunately for both sides, the lost portion of the object of power known as the Trewissick grail - lost even when the grail itself was first found - has entered the sea, making it subject to a power indifferent to their war. Worse, it lies dangerously near the Greenwitch's temporary resting place, in the control of a creature whose inherent wildness coupled with its bitter feelings makes it very dangerous to approach.

This book is well worth reading, and doesn't suffer from being the middle portion of a longer story. While it is best read after reading the story to date, it is in itself an important quest, and achieves a great thing (though the greatest achievement in the story may not be what the reader was expecting). Furthermore, in addition to showing us the Wild Magic as yet another side and another perspective to the great magical forces that operate mostly outside human awareness, this book adds a twist in the form of the Dark's mysterious agent, whose character is very distinct from those of the great lords who tend to be the Dark's representatives in other books, and who thus gives us a new perspective on the Light's ancient enemy.

In addition to the book itself, I highly recommend the unabridged audio edition read by Alex Jennings. Hearing the voices of the Cornish characters in particular is a treat.
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on 15 May 2014
... and how nice it is to read about children/young folk enjoying themselves without any recourse to smartphones, consoles, computers or any other electronics. Actually, that's what I noticed most on this re-reading of Susan Cooper's series: the anthropocentric nature of so much recent fiction. Hers is still full of the wonder, mystery and cruelty of Nature. It makes a very refreshing change from reading about the wonder, mystery and cruelty of human beings. Of course that features, too, but when Nature plays such a significant role, there's a kind of perspective it's very easy to lose in a culture that's positively obsessed with hip, trendy, digital urban lifestyles. I'm looking forward to re-reading the rest of the series!
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on 10 September 2009
Third in "The Dark is Rising" series, this book sees the meeting up of the three children from "Over Sea and Under Stone" with Will Stanton from "The Dark is Rising".

The grail that the children found in a cave in Trewissick, South Cornwall, has been stolen by an agent of the Dark, and Merriman enlists the help of the Drew children once again. Only this time the children are surprised and shocked when Merriman arrives with another boy - Will Stanton. That is surely going to be a problem, they think.

Susan Cooper writes this so well. The line between super human Old One and 11 year old boy is so perfectly walked. Each character develops nicely in this book, but especially Jane.

I loved this book as a child. The interactions between families and friends, and the stumbling move from antipathy to friendship between the Drew children and Will Stanton all stand out, along with flashes of humour and an exciting and mysterious tale, cunningly written.

As an adult reader this remains an important and enjoyable book in probably my all time favourite series. Definitely strongly recommended.
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on 25 March 2011
I came upon 'The Dark is Rising' collection quite by accident as I'd bought a collection of books for my Kindle and these books were part of the collection. They're a bit like the Harry Potter books or the Phillip Pullman trilogy in that they transcend children's literature and are equally suitable (and spell-binding)for adults. Susan Cooper writes from a well-informed perspective and you really feel that she's gone right inside the heads of the children involved. I loved that element of danger and risk and the unexpected was usually very unexpected but beautifully planned. A great read, believable characters, many nail-biting moments and good solid happy endings. What more could you ask for?
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on 19 March 2016
Bought to re-read using the kindle. A great series of books that I read as a child and revisit occasionally. The dialogue will probably seem a little old fashioned but the content and storyline make for a magical and exciting series. I loved this series as a child and still love it now.
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VINE VOICEon 31 January 2006
The third continues from Book one
Along the Cornish shore
With Simon, Jane and Barney Drew
And Merriman once more
Someone's made off with the Grail
It's got to be the Dark
This time Will Stanton's in the mix
And Barney makes his mark
The Grail requires a secret code
To understand the writing
This fell into the deep blue sea
while Light and Dark were fighting
The Greenwitch claims a soggy prize
They need to get it back
While Jane tries her best to be nice
The Dark starts to attack
A lone dark minion on a quest
Gets greedy with his role
He stirs up all the Wild Magic
Before losing control
Will they locate the precious Grail
And break its ancient code?
And will the Greenwitch be appeased
Surrendering her load
For younger fans of fantasy
This series is a must
So go tell your Librarian
"Susan Cooper - or bust!"
Amanda Richards
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VINE VOICEon 19 June 2014
To my mind The Dark is Rising series is one of the best things ever written: I discovered them over 30 years ago and have been re-reading them every couple of years since.

The characters are entirely believable and the plots move along at a spanking pace. I am always enthralled by Cooper's range and imagination. It is a wonderful set of books for literate young teens and adults alike and I heartily recommend it for all lovers of mythic fiction.
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on 27 March 2008
The Dark is Rising is a wonderful classic fantasy series, and 'Greenwitch' (Book 3) brings together the characters from Books 1 and 2, as the powers of the Light continue on their quest to overcome the Dark.

The Drew children, Simon, Jane and Barney, central to the story in 'Over Sea Under Stone' (Book 1) come back into the plot, returning to Trewissick with their Great Uncle Merry for a week of their Easter Holidays. They are on a mission to recover the celtic golden chalice they found in Book 1 and presented to a museum for safe-keeping. The chalice has been stolen and Great Uncle Merry (Gumerry) believes they can help to find it. In 'Greenwitch' their characters are better developed than in the first book, bringing out distinctive individual characteristics for each of the children.

Also on his way down to Trewissick for his holidays is Will Stanton, the Sign-Seeker and youngest of the Old Ones, guardians of the Light in Book 2. Will's Uncle Bill is taking him on his holidays with an old friend of his, Merriman Lyon... Merriman, or Merry has brought all of the children together for the first time as they each have unique skills to help with the recovering of the chalice and the fight against the powers of the Dark. Jane, in particular, as she is invited to watch the local women of the village construct the magical Greenwith as an offering to the sea, makes a wish which becomes important to the Old Ones in their struggles against the Dark....

Not as good as Book 2, but 'Greenwitch' is essential in bringing together the two plot lines established in Books 1 and 2, and is a key part of The Dark is Rising series. A great series for all ages.
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on 28 July 2013
This is really a book aimed at a younger reader, but I enjoyed it. Working my way through the series.
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