"When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back, Three from the circle, three from the track; Wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone; Five will return, and one go alone." Will Stanton turns 11 and learns from Merriman Lyon, the Lady, and Circle of Old Ones, that he must find six Sign symbols and battle the Black Rider, blizzard and flood. (from Goodreads)
I skipped rereading the first book, Over Sea Under Stone, because it’s such a summer book and I wanted something wintery. Winter means The Dark is Rising! It takes place over December, with Christmas and big snow storms and omg, I wish I lived somewhere where it snowed. I miss snow. I miss the feeling of possibilities and adventures that snows brings with it.
A standard “young boy comes into power” story, The Dark is Rising manages to still be charming despite having almost all the usual tropes that come with that story. I think it’s because Will has a lot of family, and they’re important both to him and to the story. They don’t just show up and fill in some space between the magic-and-action/adventure parts of the story. They’re integral to the completion of Will’s quest, and they don’t even really know it! It sort of reminds me of how families were treated in A Wrinkle in Time, although of course the family in that book are more directly involved (knowingly) with the adventure/quest/thing.
Another great thing is how Susan Cooper weaved in different mythological things (although mostly Arthurian-ish, I think?). It feels very British (by way of Wales), and though, again, there’s LOTS of British-y fantasy books out there, it doesn’t feel stale or overdone. It feels more like it’s reaching into the past in a solid way, not just taking something and making it vaguely magical. To compare it to another book again, it’s KIND of like Diana Wynne Jones’ Fire & Hemlock. You can figure out the source material and see how it’s used to build the story, and that makes it less wishy-washy and boring.
Now that I’ve read The Dark is Rising, I suppose I should read the rest of the series, too! But I refuse to watch the movie. I just won’t.
Read: July 23-24, 2013
What’s your favorite built-out-of-mythology book? A favorite of mine is T.H. White’s The Once and Future King (another series I really need to finish reading soon). What about you?