Pros: Quality of writing, character development, interesting new character
Cons: Not the strongest plot of the sequence, but the writing carries it.
This is the fourth book in the sequence of five books by Susan Cooper, entitled The Dark Is Rising. This sequence of books is aimed at readers aged nine through thirteen, but I found it sufficiently engaging to enjoy as an adult. If anything, I believe that the reading level for the second, third, and fourth books in this sequence is slightly more difficult than the reading level of the Harry Potter books.
The first book in the series was entitled Over Sea, Under Stone and it introduced four of the six main characters in the sequence, the Drew children (Simon, Jane, and Barney), and their great-uncle, Merriman Lyon. It also introduced the overarching theme of the sequence, a very long-standing battle between the Dark (evil), that wants to rule the world of men, and the Light (good), that defends the world of men.
The second book in the series, entitled The Dark Is Rising, shares only one character with the first book, and that is Merriman Lyon. It introduces a fifth main character, Will Stanton, who discovers that he is the youngest of the Old Ones, guardians of the Light and enemies of the Dark. Here, we begin to get the idea that these tales, that are set in Great Britain, are related to King Arthur.
In the third book, Greenwitch, all of the main characters are brought together in an effort to recover a grail that belonged to King Arthur and the key to translating the engravings on that grail. In each of the books, there is a manifestation of the Dark that opposes the representatives of the Light.
This fourth book has the three Drew children, Will Stanton, and Merriman Lyon all gathering in Wales along the coast. As with each of the previous novels, there is a quest to be fulfilled. A sixth main character emerges, Bran Davies, a boy the same age as Will Stanton, with very fair skin, white hair, and very pale eyes that are sensitive to the light. However, he is most definitively on the side of the Light. Interestingly, he is neither an Old One, like Will Stanton or Merriman Lyon, but neither is he an ordinary person like the Drew children. But are all the Drew children just ordinary people?
What is the quest that will face the six main characters this time? In what manifestation will the Dark appear to oppose the Light? What will be the obstacles to the quest? Who is the white-haired boy named Bran? I find him to be the most interesting character In the entire sequence of novels.
The writing of this novel continues to develop, as it has throughout the entire sequence of books. The vocabulary, word-choice, phrasing, and imagery evoked are all becoming very sophisticated. The prose borders on the poetic at times and harkens back to the age of the Bards and other professional storytellers who passed on the culture, traditions, and history of the people by word-of-mouth. Besides the story itself, you also learn about Wales, its culture, its history, and its language. The connection to the King Arthur tales becomes definite. The character development and description of the settings are powerful and lead the reader to feel like he or she has been there and met these people.
Thank you for reading my review.
Copyright Christian McCallister 2012