Dark Is Rising Sequence, by Susan Cooper (book review) – Guest post on classic fantasy series

Today I’ve invited fellow Blogathonner Stephanie Suesan Smith to talk up her favorite YA books for WordCount Blogathon Challenge 2011 guest post day. She’s selected a great fantasy series which has withstood the test of time – Enjoy!
Recommendation: There are many books that were published well before Harry Potter that contain magic, quests, and the fight between good and evil. One such series that was published starting in 1965 is as vibrant today as when it was written. Although the settings contain no computers or cell phones, The Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper takes us to a world within our world just the same.

Written for preteens, the stories are so ageless that I still re-read them when I need to remind myself that it is up to each of us to do our part in order that the end result comes out all right. The stories are set in Britain and are an arc of Arthurian quests without that being the overwhelming feature of the books.

Over Sea, Under Stone
is the first book and is more of a prequel than a part of the series. Start with it, but know that even better things are coming. Three children go to Cornwall with their parents to vacation with a distant relative. While rambling in the home, the children find a map to a treasure. With the dark trying to obtain the map on one hand, and the light trying to help the children, it is a race to see who reaches the object first.

The Dark Is Rising is one of my favorite books to read on a bad day when the rain is coming down and the shadows won’t go away. The British celebrate Christmas differently than Americans, and perhaps that is part of the magic of this book. It is set to the tempo of the twelve days of Christmas as a young boy, Will, becomes an adult in the world of beings who fight for or against the Dark. He is the last of his order to complete this task, and failure means the fight is lost.

Greenwitch is a book dealing with a pre-Christian ritual and belief about the sea and powerful spirits leaving there. It is well known fishermen are superstitious and believe in things others do not. The children from the first book are joined by the one from the second to recover a lost object held by one of these spirits. No force can compel this spirit to part with the needed talisman. Can friendship?

The Grey King
is the gathering. The Grey King is a powerful evil spirit working to keep the Light from winning. Will goes to Wales to stay with relatives after an illness. He must overcome the evil and help the light as the last gathering of forces begins. The final battle looms as time grows short.

Silver on the Tree
is the last book in the series. Will and all his kind go on a final quest to rid the earth of the Dark and leave it safe for mankind. Each child, Will, his three friends from the first book, and a fourth from the fourth book, is tested by the Dark and the powerful earth magic that governs how the quest must be followed. Will they succeed? Will it be enough?

People who like the Harry Potter series will like these books. The violence is much less obvious in this series. The books can be read again and again as more is discovered in each reading.

Book info: The Dark Is Rising boxed set, by Susan Cooper. Paperback: 1088 pages
Publisher: McElderry (August 21, 2007) [author’s official website] [publisher site]

Guest blogger bio: Stephanie Suesan Smith mainly uses her Ph.D. in clinical psychology to train her dogs. She is also a master gardener, member of the Garden Writer’s Association, and woodworker. Stephanie writes on almost any nonfiction topic and has had some unusual experiences that contribute to that ability. Getting pooped on by a rattlesnake probably ranks tops there, but things just seem to happen to her. View more of them at www.stephaniesuesansmith.com. View her photos at photos.stephaniesuesansmith.com. View her woodworking at wood.stephaniesuesansmith.com.

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