Inspired by my re-reading of the Chronicles of Narnia in an eight-month readalong with Chris (yes, that’s the seven Narnia books plus a non-fiction companion volume), I have decided to keep reading a ‘classic’ of children’s literature each month, intending not only to revisit favourites from my childhood to see how they live up to adult scrutiny, but also to read those I missed for the first time.
Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising Sequence of five fantasy adventure novels was published between 1965 and 1977 – and falls into the latter category. For some reason, I don’t recall ever reading these books as a child, which is odd, given how I devoured adventure novels, fairy tales and the like. How I missed these with their modern adventures set against Celtic/Arthurian legend and the eternal battle between good and evil, I don’t know. My Arthurian obsession was a later thing though – I never read the Mary Stewart Merlin books until later either.
You are cordially invited to join me in visiting these novels over the coming months. I am aiming to post my write-ups of about each one about a week before the end of each month (22nd-24th-ish) and to include a few things to think about while reading the following book in the sequence.
If you could use the hashtag #TDiR22 that’d be great. There’s a resized jpg of my logo above to your left – feel free to use it. Although I shall be reading from my set of black-covered Red Fox editions, I used the latest Puffin ones for the logo as they have a nice clean modern design.
The timetable is:
- August – Over Sea, Under Stone (1965)
- September – The Dark is Rising (1973)
- October – Greenwitch (1974)
- November – The Grey King (1975)
- December – Silver on the Tree (1977)
Some things to think about while reading Over Sea, Under Stone
The first book introduces us to the children of the Drew family, Simon, Jane and Barney on holiday in Cornwall staying with their parents and ‘Uncle’ Merry in a house borrowed from Merry’s friend Captain Tom.
- We’re reading the book in prime holiday season. Does it successfully evoke the sense of adventure of childhood holidays at the seaside for you?
- This novel was initially written in response to a competition to honour the memory of E. Nesbit, although it wasn’t actually entered for it. How well do you think Cooper achieves this?
- I can’t help comparing the Drew children to Narnia’s Pevensies. Barney would be Lucy, Simon would be Peter – does that make Jane Susan? What other parallels are there if any?
- And what about the dog? How does Rufus compare with Tintin’s Snowy/Milou or Timmy in the Blyton’s Famous Five?
My post discussing the first book will be up on August 24th, so do come back then. If you’re planning to join in though, do drop a line in the comments so I can look out for anything you post too.