Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Dark Is Rising

The title: The Dark Is RisingThe author: Susan Cooper
Publication: Atheneum, 1973Got it from: ??, 1998

I have recently been re-reading The Dark Is Rising, one of my favourite books from years ago, to put myself in a Christmas-y mood. I had forgotten how good this book is, and how crappy the movie "loosely" based on the book was. This book is actually the second in the series, but can be read as a stand-alone. It's Midwinter's Eve and 11-year-old Will Stanton's birthday. Strange things begin happening to him and he discovers he's the last of the Old Ones, ancient people who protect the world against the Dark.

It sounds like an ordinary fantasy, but it's not. It's chock full of British mythology, set in contemporary (or at least 1970's) rural England at Christmas, and it's fantastic. What I love about this book is the juxtaposition of the everyday and the supernatural. Will is an ordinary boy with an ordinary family, but he's also someone with great power and ancient knowledge. A snowstorm is no longer just a snowstorm, it's the work of dark forces.
Neighbours Will has known for years are not what they seem. It's a wonderful bridge to fantasy for people like me who don't necessarily want to read about completely different worlds and creatures. Will's world is entirely recognizable, but the forces at work within it are not. It's also classic Arthurian legend, bildungsroman and quest fable rolled into one.

I am looking forward to re-reading the other four books in the series in 2010.

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