For my second book review, I’d like to introduce The Dark is Rising, the second book in a cycle of five books about an often-metaphorical battle between Dark and Light set in Britain. I’m choosing to review The Dark is Rising rather than the first book, Over Sea, Under Stone, because this one can be read on its own without reading OSUS and because (in my opinion) it’s a better book.
Title: The Dark is Rising
Author: Susan Cooper
Page Count: 244 pages
Stars: 4 of 5 (Newberry Honor Book)
• 4 = well-written and a good read
Teaser: On the Midwinter Day that is his eleventh birthday, Will Stanton discovers a special gift—the he is the last of the Old Ones, immortals dedicated to keeping the world from domination by the forces of evil, the Dark. At once, he is plunged into a quest for the six magical Signs that will one day aid the Old Ones in the final battle between the Dark and the Light. And for the twelve days of Christmas, while the Dark is rising, life for Will is full of wonder, terror, and delight.
Age level: Teen and up (13+)
Violence: 3 of 5
• 3 = somewhat more intense violence that plays a major role in the story
Romance: 0 of 5
• 0 = none
Language: 0 of 5
• 0 = none
Christian worldview: This book has elements that we as Christians can relate to—being engaged in an epic battle between light and darkness, for example. However, there are also a lot of elements of Celtic myths and Arthurian legend woven through the story (which is why I don’t find this book appropriate for preteens, despite low levels of violence and romance). Magic is an important element in the book as well.
My thoughts: The beautiful language and imagery of The Dark is Rising really grabbed my attention (almost) from the beginning. It’s extremely well-written, and the analogies and images of light and darkness are beautifully drawn.
I must confess I don’t care for the first chapter or so, because the action was slow to start. Also, there was not very much character development of Will. There was no great sacrifice involved for him. The storyline, too, was somewhat predictable. So although I said above that this book is appropriate for teens and up, I think it’s especially suited to younger teens or those who don’t mind a slightly predictable story.
So, in conclusion, this is a beautiful book that is extremely well-written stylistically but is somewhat lacking in the Christian worldview and character development departments. If you like reading books about England or old English myths, then you may enjoy The Dark is Rising.
*Note: this book has also been made into the move The Seeker, which, according to most reviews, is one of the worst movies ever. Don't bother watching it! If anything, read the book.