Monday, May 16, 2011

Book Reviews: Over Sea, Under Stone, The Dark is Rising

The first two in "The Dark is Rising" sequence by Susan Cooper. And oh what a beginning for a book series!

"Over Sea, Under Stone"

Over Sea, Under Stone (The Dark Is Rising Sequence)
Above: A grail-shaped beacon.

While on vacation (or holiday, if you want to be British about the thing) in Cornwall, the three Drew children find a very old map that contains clues to a hidden treasure-a grail (said, of course, in that mangy Scots accent). Spurred on by their great-uncle Merriman Lyon they begin following the clues, while villains dog their every step (a dog does this as well, but with little motivation beyond “food” and “walkies”).

I’m not sure why I didn’t read this when I was a kid. But I wish I had. Something in Susan Cooper’s writing seems half-dream, half-reality, even when describing normal, everyday events. The story sucks you right in and doesn’t let you go till the very end. She builds up the plot slowly until the tension breaks like a rubber band. There’s no need to conceal the villains. Their very closeness, but no one able to do anything about them, is what causes the tension. (see TV Trope: Did You Just Have Tea With Cthulu?)

Forget that it’s shelved in the kids’ section. This is an excellent book, and a quick read.

"The Dark is Rising"

The Dark Is Rising (Dark Is Rising Sequence (Simon Pulse))
Picture above: the dark actually rising.

The second in this series, it begins with Will starting to notice very odd things happening around him...only to wake up the next day to find he isn't...exactly normal. (Or mortal, for that matter). He is one of the Old Ones, integral to defeating the rising darkness (because the dark is rising-did we mention that?) and must find the six signs that will stop aforementioned evil. Luckily he has the help of...you guessed it! Merriman Lyon, who shows him how to wander through time and use his abilities. (Presumably Lyon and Dr. Who have tea together while discussing future books by J.K. Rowling. But I digress.) It's all very epic, but hard to describe. Needless to say, it is awesome, and very very difficult to put down.

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