Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Top Shelf, Selection Four--The Dark is Rising sequence

I've long been a lover of Arthurian legend, so when I read Susan Cooper's  The Dark is RisingI was captivated. Cooper's books don't retell the legends, though. She brings Merlin into modern day and adds depth and color to the story with a variety of Welsh myth that isn't usually equated with Arthur. She's also brought some closure to the old legends that I love. For me it has become part of Arthur's story.    

Arthur is just a side character, though, and his appearance in this sequence of books is brief. The real main character is Will Stanton, the seventh son of a seventh son. On his 11th birthday, Will is informed that he's one of the "Old Ones." Will and the reader discover just what that means through the course of the books as Will struggles against the rising of the Dark.

Cooper masterfully creates such a strong atmosphere of menance and impending doom that the reader really does feel the rising of the Dark. She does this with simple images like large black birds called rooks and snow, too much snow. . . falling . . .suffocating.

I suppose it's Susan Cooper's fault that I get nervous walking by a flock of crows. And if ever one of them eyes me,  I'm gone. And yet, I still return to the books where the rooks await.

No, I did not see the movie. When I saw the trailer with a Will who was clearly older than eleven, speaking with an American accent, I wrote it off as a bad job. But don't take my word for it.

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