Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper


When Will Stanton wakes up on the morning of his birthday, he discovers an unbelievable gift -- he is immortal. Bemused and terrified, he finds he is the last of the Old Ones, magical men and women sworn to protect the world from the source of evil, the Dark.

At once Will is plunged into a quest to find six magical Signs to aid the powers of the Light. Six medallions -- iron, bronze, wood, water, fire, and stone -- created and hidden by the Old Ones centuries ago. But the Dark has sent out the Rider: evil cloaked in black, mounted upon a midnight stallion, and on the hunt for this youngest Old One, Will. He must find the six great Signs before the Dark can rise, for an epic battle between good and evil approaches.

Today is a buddy review with Melissa from Book Nut. I am a bit late posting, so I do apologize! Especially since I have the first part, so her part doesn't make a lot of sense at the moment.

Kelly: I was a bit hesitant to read this book because the first book left no impression on me at all. I don't even really remember what happened in it. Even though I own the rest of the series, I always had better books to read. When you suggested this book as a buddy review I was pretty hesitant, but I have to say I liked this book better than book 1. That being said, I still didn't like it very much. What is it that you like about this series that inspired you to suggest it for a buddy review?
Melissa: Bummer. I first read this series about 15 or so years ago, and this one stood out among the others (I'll agree: the first book isn't that good). I liked the mood that Cooper evokes in the book, the use of the midwinter holidays and the way she incorporates the Arthurian myth. I found that this story resonated with me and has stuck with me over the years. (It's best reread at mid-winter, though.) And I'm all about sharing books that I love. To be fair, Hubby read it for the first time last winter and had the same reaction as you: good parts, some good writing, but overall kind of blah. What didn't you like it?

Kelly: I think if I had read it as a child or if I didn't read as much fantasy as I do, I would have liked it. I found it boring and I think it was because there wasn't anything fresh about it. I understand that she is probably the inspiration for the other books I have read with the same themes, but unfortunately I read them first and her second. I tried to keep that in mind as I was reading it. I entirely agree with your husband, though. There were some parts of the book I really liked, but overall it was just blah. It's only short and I really had to work to finish it. So, does that mean you enjoyed your reread of it?

Melissa: Y'know, I did. I still love the language of the book -- which it totally surprising, because I'm usually a plot- and character-driven reader -- and I love the use of myth and the battle of good versus evil. But, I can see where you are coming from. There is an awful lot of narrative and not much action in the book. I think, too, it has a lot to do with the time period that it was written in. It's 1970s fantasy, and it's just not as action-filled as some of the books today are. What books did this remind you of?

Kelly: I should have taken notes. When I look back on the whole book, I just remember the whole book. When I was reading the book, though, there were little moments that reminded me of other fantasy novels. I do agree with you that there was not enough action. When I was reading it I just kept thinking things were dragging, but that's why. There was so much build-up and then when something happened I am not sure if it was enough. I guess I just didn't find the book fresh. There was nothing that happened that I thought: "Hey! That's creative!". I know that books are based around the same ideas, but authors still manage to add a little creativity to the story. What did you think about the characters?

To read the rest of the review head over to Melissa's blog! Enjoy!


  1. I really loved both book 1 and book 2 and have book 3 on my pile for Carl's OUaT challenge. I really wish I'd read them as a child to be honest and can't think why I missed them. Sorry you're not so keen. Book 1 for me had a Cornish fishing village off pefectly and I *really* loved the winter setting of book 2.

  2. I am not sure this series is for me, but great review!

  3. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it as much as I did - Kerry, Ana and I reviewed it last year, and we all liked it. That said, your review is interesting too - I understand what you mean by not much happens in this one. I still found the mixing of the myth with who Will might be, really moving and interesting. It made me read the rest of the series (the first book has a different tone all together). I like the sense of danger, menace, the atmosphere of this book, and then the contrast with the happy family. I think it's quite brilliant, actually! So it interesting to see where we differ,since normally we share a lot of book tastes, too!


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