Under Stone, Over Sea

Written by: Susan Cooper

Under Stone, Over Sea Book Cover
On holiday in Cornwall, the three Drew children discover an ancient map in the attic of the house that they are staying in. They know immediately that it is special. It is even more than that -- the key to finding a grail, a source of power to fight the forces of evil known as the Dark. And in searching for it themselves, the Drews put their very lives in peril. This is the first volume of Susan Cooper's brilliant and absorbing fantasy sequence known as The Dark Is Rising.
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Under Stone Over Sea Reviews

Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*
4.5 stars

I have to admit I wasn't expecting a lot from this book -- I thought it would be much more geared toward the middle-grade crowd and probably fall in with the books I would've loved as a kid but if I read them now I'd be bored. But! I was happily surprised (and by surprised I mean snagged hook line and SINKER by this brilliance).

It starts out feeling very Narnia-esque; a family siblings go to stay with an eccentric uncle professor and then the kids discover a passage behind the wardrobe. 4.5 stars

I have to admit I wasn't expecting a lot from this book -- I thought it would be much more geared toward the middle-grade crowd and probably fall in with the books I would've loved as a kid but if I read them now I'd be bored. But! I was happily surprised (and by surprised I mean snagged hook line and SINKER by this brilliance).

It starts out feeling very Narnia-esque; a family siblings go to stay with an eccentric uncle professor and then the kids discover a passage behind the wardrobe. Even if that wasn't the world's biggest Narnia nod, it's still clever and sweet. Once the kids found the map in the attic, it felt very Boxcar Children-esque (my favorite books when I was a kid). They have to work out the clues to solve this mystery before the bad guys get there first (and how bad they were -- creepers!) And by the halfway point it had just morphed into a full-on Grail quest and I'm over here fist pumping. :D

So yeah. If you put Narnia, the Boxcar Children, and Indiana Jones into a blender, this would be the amazing smoothie that comes out. It was so brilliant (especially Prof Lyon, OMG) and so fun and really unexpectedly creepy. There were several points where I found myself legitimately creeped out (the bad guys were EXCELLENT bad guys). The kids acted and sounded like kids. There were a few grammatical errors, quotation marks missing and things like that, but this was overall a really cool book. Excited for the rest because I looooooove Celtic mythology.

Thanks tons for the recommendation, Meg! <3
Elaine
I have to admit that I have no idea how this book. released in 1965, showed up in my GoodReads to read list. If I was better organized I would know who recommended this, and why, and when. But, it appears that I am not sufficiently organized, and thus, all I know is that this book was on my list, and I decided to make an equal effort towards reading books I have noted as to-read with the new, shiny books that attract my attention. And so, 1965 it is.

I found myself comparing this book Stephen Kin I have to admit that I have no idea how this book. released in 1965, showed up in my GoodReads to read list. If I was better organized I would know who recommended this, and why, and when. But, it appears that I am not sufficiently organized, and thus, all I know is that this book was on my list, and I decided to make an equal effort towards reading books I have noted as to-read with the new, shiny books that attract my attention. And so, 1965 it is.

I found myself comparing this book Stephen King as it contains many of the same tropes: a group of young children left with a great deal of time on their hands who somehow manage to a) find a treasure map that has been missing for centuries and centuries, b) protect the map (kind of) from many adults with bad intentions and at least a couple of other children who are bullies and tricksters and c) operate under the haphazard and crypic stewardship of a tall and occasionally threating, seemingly ageless man (think Gandalph if you need an image). Peril ensues with hapless parents completely unaware and never sought out for help. Murky and menacing characters appear and then disappear. All the classic King elements are in place. But then I realized that this book was written so long ago that perhaps Stephen King read it, and used it his emotional touchstone!

Be that as it may, I started the book when I had an hour in my car, waiting for someone. By the next morning at 10:00 am the book was finished and ready to be returned to the library. I even read this book instead of a fairly complex Hugo award winning novel which is bending my brain in new directions. I'm unlikely to read the next in the series, but then, I just might.

Revision: I see that Mark Lawrence read this, and his stuff is always great -- which suggests I followed his review perhaps?
Diamond

My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

--Book read as part of the Dust off your Classics challenge!! Click HERE for my full post about it.

Abridged Review
So I finally finished this!!
I am so proud of myself. Not because it was an awful book, it was definitely a solidly good book.

More so because all the reading time I have had lately has been squarely devoted to grad school readings (which are immensely long and thick and critical and BLAH). So when I am done with those I am so drained that the thought of read
My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

--Book read as part of the Dust off your Classics challenge!! Click HERE for my full post about it.

Abridged Review
So I finally finished this!!
I am so proud of myself. Not because it was an awful book, it was definitely a solidly good book.

More so because all the reading time I have had lately has been squarely devoted to grad school readings (which are immensely long and thick and critical and BLAH). So when I am done with those I am so drained that the thought of reading (even an easy breezy book like this) makes me BLAH.

Anyway, the first 3/4 of this book were really wonderful. It flew by, and I really enjoyed reading about the three kids as they had their holiday in Cornwall with their Great Uncle Merry (who was an excellent character as well) ...aka GunMerry lol.

As the adventure unfolded (fairly quickly too I might add, as this book is under 200 pages, I got into it more and more. It did remind me a LOT of Narnia, specifically: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. That is one of my favorite books so it's not a criticism, but a compliment.
The Elf Queen of Shannara :: اسرار گنج دره جنی :: The Complete Stories of Truman Capote :: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1 :: Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays
Allie
A couple of years ago I saw a movie with a scene that had an almost Mardi Gras feel to it -- without exposed breasts. *wink wink* The music was loud, the street was packed full of costumed, dancing people. There were kids in the movie, and I was pretty sure that they were the main characters. And they had a dog. That's all I could remember. I really liked that movie. I wanted to remember what it was called so I could watch it again, but even Google couldn't help me remember. *sad face*

Then I rer A couple of years ago I saw a movie with a scene that had an almost Mardi Gras feel to it -- without exposed breasts. *wink wink* The music was loud, the street was packed full of costumed, dancing people. There were kids in the movie, and I was pretty sure that they were the main characters. And they had a dog. That's all I could remember. I really liked that movie. I wanted to remember what it was called so I could watch it again, but even Google couldn't help me remember. *sad face*

Then I reread this book. And guess what? It wasn't a movie --- it was this book! To me, that is a huge compliment to the author.

I rarely reread books, only because I have a massive 'really want to read' list. But I quite enjoyed this, both times. *yay face* I enjoyed it so much that I've put it on my 'to buy' list. *fist pump to Susan Cooper*

(Excellent audiobook as well.)
Bev
This is the first in the Dark is Rising Quintet.

Written over 50 years ago, it tells of 3 children on holiday in Cornwall with their parents and Great Uncle Merry. They discover a map and become involved in a rushed hunt against "The Dark" for the Grail.

It is a beautifully written tale for all ages and still very relevant today. It includes the myths of King Arthur and magic but does not feel like a children's book. Wonderful introduction to the set.
IsagelCharles
Rereading this series for the first time in some twenty-odd years. Started with The Dark Is Rising on the winter solstice as part of a seasonal group reading and then went back to read this book. It’s fun because I’ve basically forgotten everything, apart from Merriman and certain settings. Over Sea, Under Stone is still an immensely exciting book, and it hits so many of my tastes that are still exactly the same as when I was a teenager. I enjoyed this reread a lot.

As a side note, I found it int Rereading this series for the first time in some twenty-odd years. Started with The Dark Is Rising on the winter solstice as part of a seasonal group reading and then went back to read this book. It’s fun because I’ve basically forgotten everything, apart from Merriman and certain settings. Over Sea, Under Stone is still an immensely exciting book, and it hits so many of my tastes that are still exactly the same as when I was a teenager. I enjoyed this reread a lot.

As a side note, I found it interesting how Cooper freely switches POV between the characters mid-section throughout, exactly as you’re always taught you shouldn’t do when writing a story. Here it works very well and is actually not confusing.
Kara
This book felt almost cozy to me. A little slow going at first but then just very enjoyable. I’d like to read the next one.
Connor
this book was decent. I would've liked it if the main characters weren't so annoying. 3 stars.
Liz
It doesn't matter that this book was written 30 years ago, it easily withstands the test of time. It's actually superior to so much of the children's literature that's being put out these days.

The writing harkens back to a time when children were expected to have a much higher reading ability at a far younger age than they're allowed to get away with today. This book doesn't talk down to its audience whether it be child or adult, it doesn't dumb down the vocabulary or spend pages repetitively go It doesn't matter that this book was written 30 years ago, it easily withstands the test of time. It's actually superior to so much of the children's literature that's being put out these days.

The writing harkens back to a time when children were expected to have a much higher reading ability at a far younger age than they're allowed to get away with today. This book doesn't talk down to its audience whether it be child or adult, it doesn't dumb down the vocabulary or spend pages repetitively going over plot details; it's fast paced and presumes that whomever is reading it has at least a passing knowledge of Arthurian legend and Grail mythology, which any child of two or three decades ago probably would have.

This is a great adventure book, a classic story of good vs. evil set in relatively modern day England. Three children, Simon, Jane, and Barney, find an ancient map hidden away in the old house their great-uncle is renting for their family over the summer, and with that discovery they're plunged into a quest and a conflict, both straight out of legend.

It's a great deal to drop onto such young shoulders, but they're well equipped for it. Between the three of them they have all the skills they need to find the answers to age-old riddles and escape their evil pursuers. Not that the latter is always easy, and there's a great build up in tension a few times when you aren't really sure that they will get away.

Not all questions are answered at the end of the book and the ending itself isn't a complete wrap up of the story, but it fits well with the rest of the story, and with reality. Sometimes you just don't know who the other side really is and you do have to settle for half a prize rather than none. It's not at all annoying or frustrating here, it just feels...right. Besides, the Merlin reference at the end really made for a wonderful ending. So appropriate.

This is high quality adventure and suspense, the real world colliding with a magical one in a way that's far different from Harry Potter, and in some ways better than the HP series entirely. Children's literature just isn't written this way anymore, which is a real shame.
Ivy-Sue
I very much so disliked this book. I very rarely dislike books, but I just did not enjoy this one. I'm not going to read any of the sequels. I just am not interested enough to keep going. There were a lot of loose ends and a lot of things that could have been spiced up a bit more, meaning the language could have been more extensive or there could've been more detail in a certain area to make it stand out more if it was important. I just think this author should've thought more about what they we I very much so disliked this book. I very rarely dislike books, but I just did not enjoy this one. I'm not going to read any of the sequels. I just am not interested enough to keep going. There were a lot of loose ends and a lot of things that could have been spiced up a bit more, meaning the language could have been more extensive or there could've been more detail in a certain area to make it stand out more if it was important. I just think this author should've thought more about what they were writing before publishing it. There was also a bunch of typos in this copy. Like, I found words in there that made absolutely no sense the way they were, but if one letter were corrected, it'd be perfect. Also, I just don't enjoy childish mysteries like this one. It was barely even slightly complicated. It was so easy to understand, a six-year-old would've been able to read it and get the text perfectly. Overall, I just didn't enjoy this book. If you enjoy really simple books with some mystery, I think you'd enjoy this, but I just didn't.
Andres
It did take me 4 months to read this book, mainly due to the fact that nothing made me want to pick it up for 3.5 of those months.

When I started reading this book I was hoping for a rip roaring adventure of some kind, since this is the first in a highly acclaimed series. Well, this one seems to be the less loved of the series, and for good reason. Whatever ties this has to the rest of the series, it doesn't quite pull off the urgency required to keep this reader's attention rapt.

I liked the stor It did take me 4 months to read this book, mainly due to the fact that nothing made me want to pick it up for 3.5 of those months.

When I started reading this book I was hoping for a rip roaring adventure of some kind, since this is the first in a highly acclaimed series. Well, this one seems to be the less loved of the series, and for good reason. Whatever ties this has to the rest of the series, it doesn't quite pull off the urgency required to keep this reader's attention rapt.

I liked the story fine, and the characters are all interesting (to a point), and the one nighttime chase scene is quite unnerving, but as a whole it all feels rather... underdone, like a pie that hasn't been cooked quite long enough. There's this feeling of the story going somewhere, going somewhere, going somewhere... oh, we're there and it's over? Well... that was... something. And the writing just feels labored and uninspired.

So while it may set up whatever follows in the next four books, it certainly is a bit of a letdown.
Ruth
At first I thought this would be a story like the Narnia tales, (which I liked enormously) and I was afraid that this would be a disappointment after that.

But the story is totally different, a different atmosphere, and I really enjoyed reading this exciting adventure.
I also liked the link with the tale of King Arthur.
Leah
Lovely! I'm sure I would have enjoyed this one even more if I had discovered it as a child. On to the next book!
Pam Baddeley
This is the first in the Dark is Rising sequence, but really forms a kind of prequel to the series because it is a classic story of children solving a mystery to find something - the Grail cup, it seems. It even has a slight Narnian vibe, when the children dislodge an old wardrobe to find stairs behind it, which take them into an attic where they discover the manuscript which will give them the clues throughout the tale.

Classically, their parents are oblivious to everything, and the children mor This is the first in the Dark is Rising sequence, but really forms a kind of prequel to the series because it is a classic story of children solving a mystery to find something - the Grail cup, it seems. It even has a slight Narnian vibe, when the children dislodge an old wardrobe to find stairs behind it, which take them into an attic where they discover the manuscript which will give them the clues throughout the tale.

Classically, their parents are oblivious to everything, and the children more or less run around unsupervised apart from the occasional involvement of their mysterious honorary great uncle Merry, a history professor but much more. There are a few hints that he might be a guardian character as in the rest of the series, and the youngest boy, Barnaby, even works out a clue at the end to his identity, which fits with the Arthurian theme. The force known as the Dark is present, in the form of a villainous opponent of Merry, aided by a couple of sidekicks and bolstered by locals in the Cornish village where the children are holidaying. A nice element is that even people who are jolly and make nice scones might really be nasty spies who endanger children without a qualm.

The children have to solve puzzles using logic and reasoning, which is a nice touch. The story is also well written on the whole. However, there are some niggles. For those who come to the book after 'The Dark is Rising' and its sequels, as I did originally, there is a definite disappointment: as stated above, it is not an overt fantasy. The fantasy elements are very low-key and alluded to occasionally, but the book is more a Famous Five (Enid Blyton) type adventure story. Secondly, although it must be borne in mind that this is a product of its time (1965), the three chidren are fairly privileged middle class kids, whose parents are a doctor and an artist, and gender stereotypes are well enforced. Not only does Jane have to be carried on one occasion, although she is not the youngest child, but the phrase 'poor Jane' jumped out three times, rather jarring. The boys were definitely not 'poor Simon' or 'poor Barnaby' no matter what discomforts and alarms they were put through.

So although it is quite a page turning read, it is not particularly memorable. In some respects, it sets up the series, but I don't think it is essential to read this book in order to understand the rest of the novels.
Matt
I remember loving "The Dark Is Rising" as a kid, and wanted to reread it. However, the annoying completist part of my brain decided that I should probably reread this one too since "The Dark is Rising" is technically book 2 in the series. "Over Sea, Under Stone" is definitely intriguing and fun, though it doesn't capture me in the same way as the next book. The writing style is very proper which is charming, but also serves to distance the reader from the characters and the action. There are als I remember loving "The Dark Is Rising" as a kid, and wanted to reread it. However, the annoying completist part of my brain decided that I should probably reread this one too since "The Dark is Rising" is technically book 2 in the series. "Over Sea, Under Stone" is definitely intriguing and fun, though it doesn't capture me in the same way as the next book. The writing style is very proper which is charming, but also serves to distance the reader from the characters and the action. There are also times when the kids seem to be either brilliant or absolutely idiotic, so that inconsistency can be frustrating. These are just nitpicks, however, and I would have enjoyed this novel as a kid (and did!). As an adult, it's not my favorite YA novel, but it still holds up quite well and and embodies a genuine sense of adventure that is simple and refreshing.
Lucy Barnhouse
I loved this book, and so did my inner seven-year-old. I was a bit annoyed that Jane, as the girl, was more often kept out of things than the girls in the Narnia books, but following the three children around their rambling old house and the wild coast of Cornwall was great fun. As a medievalist, too, I was delighted by the use of the manuscript, the discussion of obscure textual traditions (!), and the gentle fun had at the expense of academics who endlessly debate the material evidence for int I loved this book, and so did my inner seven-year-old. I was a bit annoyed that Jane, as the girl, was more often kept out of things than the girls in the Narnia books, but following the three children around their rambling old house and the wild coast of Cornwall was great fun. As a medievalist, too, I was delighted by the use of the manuscript, the discussion of obscure textual traditions (!), and the gentle fun had at the expense of academics who endlessly debate the material evidence for intangible truths like the existence of King Arthur.
Liz (readwildly)
Several other books in The Dark is Rising series were favorites of mine growing up, but something about Over Sea, Under Stone failed to grab me. Reading it again, years later as an adult, I still don't like it, but I don't know if my reasons now are the same as those behind my childhood disinterest. But I'll list them out anyway: the only female character is a timorous ninny whose first instinct in any situation is to tell mum and dad; stereotypical annoying brothers who somehow always get to do Several other books in The Dark is Rising series were favorites of mine growing up, but something about Over Sea, Under Stone failed to grab me. Reading it again, years later as an adult, I still don't like it, but I don't know if my reasons now are the same as those behind my childhood disinterest. But I'll list them out anyway: the only female character is a timorous ninny whose first instinct in any situation is to tell mum and dad; stereotypical annoying brothers who somehow always get to do the physical, messy, adventurous stuff; casual racism ("natives are always rude! it's just a thing natives are!"); a very boring and straightforward quest; simplistic good versus evil storyline.
Chris
Picked this up while trying to find something new to read. Turns out it was already on my to read list, but I wasn't sure why until I discovered the Arthurian theme. I enjoyed getting to know these characters. I also found the narrator to be pretty good. I am looking forward to seeing what happens next.
Ivy
What a gem. Over Sea Under Stone is the perfect book for children who enjoy the Narnia Chronicles. Since it was written in 1965 in the U.K., some of the terms/slang may be unfamiliar to kids today, but it's not enough to cause any confusion in the plot. I always love a good quest story; this was that with an Arthurian twist.

The audio is a great way to experience a Cornish accent FYI.
Grace
One of my favorite series ever -- not one of my favorite books in the series. Kind of a Narnia vibe: bossy Simon, sensible Jane, whimsical Barney. I do enjoy the quest, and Merriman, and the King Arthur references. I love this book because of its setup for the later series, but if it were a standalone story I honestly would have forgotten about it by now.
Sarah
Took me a bit to get into but by page 100 I was in. There were a few things that I didn't care for that seemed tied to the time period this was published in particularly the depiction of evil wearing black, using owl noises, Arab costumes, and black cat costumes. overall it was a fun romp and was comforting in a nostalgic way during a recent rough patch.
Jameyanne Fuller
This was a bit slow to start, and bits of it were pretty predictable, but once it going, there was some great adventuring and puzzle-solving and chase scenes. I also appreciated how Great Uncle Merry could help them out but still let it be their quest, so the kids had a lot of agency. And I love the possibility of who Merry might actually be. Can’t wait to see where this series goes next.
Lost in a Good Book
I loved this one as a child, but unfortunately it didn't hold as well for me as an adult. It's a fun story, but the adventure is little bland and dated now. And the characters felt a bit flat - except for Rufus!
Maisie
A good adventure book! Fun to listen to on tape, reminds me that I have probably listened to it before, way back when...
Backslash
Really enjoyed it. Writing is very good. Good hook to the series. I am definitely looking forward to the rest of the series
Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*
4.5 stars

I have to admit I wasn't expecting a lot from this book -- I thought it would be much more geared toward the middle-grade crowd and probably fall in with the books I would've loved as a kid but if I read them now I'd be bored. But! I was happily surprised (and by surprised I mean snagged hook line and SINKER by this brilliance).

It starts out feeling very Narnia-esque; a family siblings go to stay with an eccentric uncle professor and then the kids discover a passage behind the wardrobe. Even if that wasn't the world's biggest Narnia nod, it's still clever and sweet. Once the kids found the map in the attic, it felt very Boxcar Children-esque (my favorite books when I was a kid). They have to work out the clues to solve this mystery before the bad guys get there first (and how bad they were -- creepers!) And by the halfway point it had just morphed into a full-on Grail quest and I'm over here fist pumping. :D

So yeah. If you put Narnia, the Boxcar Children, and Indiana Jones into a blender, this would be the amazing smoothie that comes out. It was so brilliant (especially Prof Lyon, OMG) and so fun and really unexpectedly creepy. There were several points where I found myself legitimately creeped out (the bad guys were EXCELLENT bad guys). The kids acted and sounded like kids. There were a few grammatical errors, quotation marks missing and things like that, but this was overall a really cool book. Excited for the rest because I looooooove Celtic mythology.

Thanks tons for the recommendation, Meg! <3
Melaniemouse
A generous 3 stars, probably more like 2 1/2 at most. The beginning was so much like "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" that she had to be bordering on plagiarism (in my opinion). It did take its own turn once it became an Arthurian "grail quest." The plot was pretty slow moving, and extremely, um, British? Three little British kids talking a lot to each other in very British ways. I always have a hard time when the characters don't have as much common sense as I think they should (which is A generous 3 stars, probably more like 2 1/2 at most. The beginning was so much like "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" that she had to be bordering on plagiarism (in my opinion). It did take its own turn once it became an Arthurian "grail quest." The plot was pretty slow moving, and extremely, um, British? Three little British kids talking a lot to each other in very British ways. I always have a hard time when the characters don't have as much common sense as I think they should (which is a common plight in JV fiction). I get that they're kids, but they seemed like awfully naive kids at times. Another complaint, although it is actually very unfair to the story, is that the edition I read was very old and not pleasant to read. Like the cheap books from the dollar store, where it's all very small, flat print, all crammed on the page with no spacing... That made it harder for me to pick the book back up and continue reading. So, it was okay. I think I'll try reading at least the next one, to see if it gets better, since they're not long reads.
Jen
Got to page 99 and just had to stop. I was so ANGRY I was about to fling the book across the room. I HATE it when the characters do DUMB things to further the plot.

Bad lady semi-confronts good kids. They convince her they have no idea what she's talking about. She goes off. They go IN THE DIRECTION she went and then proceed to forget she's in the area and take out the item she's looking for and asked them for and while they are looking at it, she sneaks up behind them.

Really? REALLY?!? If they Got to page 99 and just had to stop. I was so ANGRY I was about to fling the book across the room. I HATE it when the characters do DUMB things to further the plot.

Bad lady semi-confronts good kids. They convince her they have no idea what she's talking about. She goes off. They go IN THE DIRECTION she went and then proceed to forget she's in the area and take out the item she's looking for and asked them for and while they are looking at it, she sneaks up behind them.

Really? REALLY?!? If they are THAT dumb, they deserve what they get! Also annoyed that its not clear WHO has the guide book. Did Jane get it back from the vicar? Does he still have it? The uncle asked about it, but Jane never answered him! I HATE dangling plot points, that are ignored by the author and are left to languish until they rot or the author bothers to bring it up again when it's convenient for them.

Will read next book, it's a classic, but if that is a DNF too, I'm not bothering with the rest of the series!
Melrose
I picked up this book because it was cited as inspiration to a series I quite like. I hadn't realised it was this old, though; nor that it was aimed at children. Reading this book for the first time as an adult is definitely one of the reasons I rated it this low. Another is how old-fashioned it read to me now.

The old-fashionedness comes through especially in the dialogue but also in the characterisation, which reminds me of older children stories, such as Enyd Blyton's: the bad guys are bad and I picked up this book because it was cited as inspiration to a series I quite like. I hadn't realised it was this old, though; nor that it was aimed at children. Reading this book for the first time as an adult is definitely one of the reasons I rated it this low. Another is how old-fashioned it read to me now.

The old-fashionedness comes through especially in the dialogue but also in the characterisation, which reminds me of older children stories, such as Enyd Blyton's: the bad guys are bad and they scowl or are rude, the protagonists are kind and polite. The story is brief and straightforward. It's such a short book so there isn't a lot of room for convoluted plots.

On the plus side, there are a couple of scenes which were tense and full of suspense and they actually scared me for real. So kudos for that.

I'll give the next one a try since it's claimed to be better than the first one.
Nadine Jones
When I was young, my mom bought me one of the books from this series (The Grey King) - I really enjoyed it, and I always wanted to go back and read the entire series from the beginning. Not sure why I never got around to it. After a while I guess I forgot about it, but recently I saw the series mentioned and remembered how much I enjoyed The Grey King, so I figured, well, better late than never! Should be a fast read.

Update: this isn't going so well. I can see why I really enjoyed the other book When I was young, my mom bought me one of the books from this series (The Grey King) - I really enjoyed it, and I always wanted to go back and read the entire series from the beginning. Not sure why I never got around to it. After a while I guess I forgot about it, but recently I saw the series mentioned and remembered how much I enjoyed The Grey King, so I figured, well, better late than never! Should be a fast read.

Update: this isn't going so well. I can see why I really enjoyed the other book in the series when I was young, but as an adult, the plot just doesn't grab me. It's very basic, the solutions to puzzles are obvious to me as an adult, but I appreciate that the author is keeping things simple for the intended adolescent audience. I'll recommend this one to my daughter in a few years, but I doubt I'll continue on with the series right now. I did enjoy the Arthurian angle to the plot.
Sally
I never read these books as a child, but had heard a lot about them. I want to be able to recommend more books my kids than the ones I read when I was young so I decided to read this, the first in the Dark is Rising sequence.

I would have guzzled this book when I was younger - it's well written and the characters are well drawn (the children are very believable). There's a good dose of suspense and a bit of Arthurian mystery, all stuff I would have adored as a kid (and I'm not averse to it now... I never read these books as a child, but had heard a lot about them. I want to be able to recommend more books my kids than the ones I read when I was young so I decided to read this, the first in the Dark is Rising sequence.

I would have guzzled this book when I was younger - it's well written and the characters are well drawn (the children are very believable). There's a good dose of suspense and a bit of Arthurian mystery, all stuff I would have adored as a kid (and I'm not averse to it now...)

If I'm being picky, there were certain elements that were a bit unsubtle - e.g. everyone who looked like they might be a bit untrustworthy turned out to be, and a few red herrings would have made for a bit of suspense - but generally a really good story.

I will definitely keep on with the series.
Tania Poole
It's about time I read these again, it's been over 10 years since I did.
I own a box set I haven't read since I bought it, it was a friend's books I borrowed the first time.
Full of magic, dark vs light, myth and legends of King Arthur, folklore, tradition, Merry England, and paganism - I'm kind of mentioning the whole series of 5 books here.
This first book of 5 is one the Susan wrote years before the others. So the magic in it is not as strong as the later books, but you have a lovely beginning It's about time I read these again, it's been over 10 years since I did.
I own a box set I haven't read since I bought it, it was a friend's books I borrowed the first time.
Full of magic, dark vs light, myth and legends of King Arthur, folklore, tradition, Merry England, and paganism - I'm kind of mentioning the whole series of 5 books here.
This first book of 5 is one the Susan wrote years before the others. So the magic in it is not as strong as the later books, but you have a lovely beginning of the Light fighting the Dark, finding the grail over sea and under stone on the Cornish Coast.
Merriman is quite the iconic wizened mentor, guardian and teacher, like Gandalf, Dumbledor and Ben Kenobi. A typical helper from the Monomyth.

The Dark is Rising Sequence is a must read for those that love pagan adventure and folklore of Britain.
Jordan Michaels
The first in an amazing series. These fine fantasy books put you in a trance where you just can't put them down! I was a bit disappointed that this was not the first movie. I am even more disappointed to hear they may not be doing any of the others as movies. I say why not? These books are just as good if not better than the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe books. And if you want to be picky, the first movie they did for those SHOULD have been The Magician's Nephew. I really hate when they make The first in an amazing series. These fine fantasy books put you in a trance where you just can't put them down! I was a bit disappointed that this was not the first movie. I am even more disappointed to hear they may not be doing any of the others as movies. I say why not? These books are just as good if not better than the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe books. And if you want to be picky, the first movie they did for those SHOULD have been The Magician's Nephew. I really hate when they make the movies of older books out of order. How hard is it? Really? How hard??

Sorry fopr the rant there. All in all I would tell anyone that has not read this to do so, and if you have, think about reading it again!
Kribu
I admit that I was somewhat wary of this book - I'm not a big fan of things that have anything to do with the Arthurian legend - but I really enjoyed it.

Once again, I have to say this is the sort of book that I'd have truly adored as a child; the mixture of adventure and mystery would have been right up my alley at the time, but it worked well enough even now. I wish, perhaps, that the characters had been a little more three-dimensional - as it is, I felt we barely got to know them at all - but I admit that I was somewhat wary of this book - I'm not a big fan of things that have anything to do with the Arthurian legend - but I really enjoyed it.

Once again, I have to say this is the sort of book that I'd have truly adored as a child; the mixture of adventure and mystery would have been right up my alley at the time, but it worked well enough even now. I wish, perhaps, that the characters had been a little more three-dimensional - as it is, I felt we barely got to know them at all - but I suppose that's a common issue with children's books where the adventure is the main thing.

In spite of enjoying this, I'm a little hesitant about reading the next books in this "sequence", but I suspect my curiosity will at some point get the better of me and I'll be reading some more anyway.
Nancy Ellis
Another one of those "how the heck did I get through childhood without reading this" books! But at least there is some excuse for this, since it wasn't written until I was a teenager. I'm so glad I found it now, though, and am looking forward to the rest of the series. As some of the other reviewers have stated, the children in this book are more realistic and believable than children in many other YA series, and I particularly enjoy the basis of the "mystery" being Arthurian legends. Once again Another one of those "how the heck did I get through childhood without reading this" books! But at least there is some excuse for this, since it wasn't written until I was a teenager. I'm so glad I found it now, though, and am looking forward to the rest of the series. As some of the other reviewers have stated, the children in this book are more realistic and believable than children in many other YA series, and I particularly enjoy the basis of the "mystery" being Arthurian legends. Once again good triumphs (relatively) over evil, but it's obvious that the evil will always return to make life a constant struggle. Excellent, thoroughly enjoyable book!
Renée Schwartz
A wonderful story with well worn characters that remind you of tales you've know before. The only issue was how painfully slow the children were to make the obvious connections. Several times I caught myself laying it down in frustration only to patiently remind myself minutes later that they were only 10-ish years old. "Would I have been any wiser at that age?"
That is how you know you have such thoroughly developed characters, when they behave exactly as their real life counterparts. Flaws and A wonderful story with well worn characters that remind you of tales you've know before. The only issue was how painfully slow the children were to make the obvious connections. Several times I caught myself laying it down in frustration only to patiently remind myself minutes later that they were only 10-ish years old. "Would I have been any wiser at that age?"
That is how you know you have such thoroughly developed characters, when they behave exactly as their real life counterparts. Flaws and all.
All in all, a timeless tale tame enough for the youngest reader and yet fantastical enough for the adult as well.
Tena
I had heard from a friend that the 2nd book in this series, The Seeker, was a pretty good read so I decided to start from the beginning. The book has some interesting ideas, but most of it is so bland that I had a hard time getting to page 120 (where I stopped). I expected it to be similar to the Chronicles of Narnia but it tended to spend so much time just trying to get the story started that it quickly became boring and I found myself stopping multiple times wondering if it would get better so I had heard from a friend that the 2nd book in this series, The Seeker, was a pretty good read so I decided to start from the beginning. The book has some interesting ideas, but most of it is so bland that I had a hard time getting to page 120 (where I stopped). I expected it to be similar to the Chronicles of Narnia but it tended to spend so much time just trying to get the story started that it quickly became boring and I found myself stopping multiple times wondering if it would get better soon. I eventually reached page 120 and was just too bored. I'd recommend the Chronicles of Narnia, Lois Lowry's books, or Michael Ende's Never Ending Story to anyone way before this book.
Heidi
I read this book aloud to my children over the past few weeks at bedtime, which was fun for all of us. This is a book I'd read myself as a child, along with the rest of the series, but I couldn't remember the details well. I picked up a copy last summer at a used book sale at the library. Hence, I was as interested as my children to find out what would happen next each evening. There are frustrating parts where the protagonists are a bit slow to see the obvious. Fortunately, those are rare enoug I read this book aloud to my children over the past few weeks at bedtime, which was fun for all of us. This is a book I'd read myself as a child, along with the rest of the series, but I couldn't remember the details well. I picked up a copy last summer at a used book sale at the library. Hence, I was as interested as my children to find out what would happen next each evening. There are frustrating parts where the protagonists are a bit slow to see the obvious. Fortunately, those are rare enough. I should also mention that my three-year-old was unable to get into the story, and repeatedly interrupted.
Douglas
Okay, this is more like it. I needed a good book like this. Geared towards a younger audience, this book still has plenty to speak to all audiences. It reads a lot like an Indiana Jones-style adventure in England, specifically Cornwall, complete with clues, treasure, and rivals that the kids have to respectively solve, find, and elude. Though they have help in the form of Grand Uncle Merry, he notes that this is their adventure, and thus his help is as minimal as necessary. It means the kids get Okay, this is more like it. I needed a good book like this. Geared towards a younger audience, this book still has plenty to speak to all audiences. It reads a lot like an Indiana Jones-style adventure in England, specifically Cornwall, complete with clues, treasure, and rivals that the kids have to respectively solve, find, and elude. Though they have help in the form of Grand Uncle Merry, he notes that this is their adventure, and thus his help is as minimal as necessary. It means the kids get the thrill of the adventure, and it makes for an engaging tale that stands the test of time.

I highly recommend this book.
Lisa Brown
The Drew children are on holiday with their parents and uncle in Cornwall, and while they are exploring their vacation home, they find an old map that may just be the key to an ancient legend. A legend about King Arthur, but also about the war between good and evil. But where good surfaces, the dark is always there trying to thwart it, and so it is with the children, as the evil forces try to stop them and steal the clues that they have found.

A fun adventure, and although it doesn't take place i The Drew children are on holiday with their parents and uncle in Cornwall, and while they are exploring their vacation home, they find an old map that may just be the key to an ancient legend. A legend about King Arthur, but also about the war between good and evil. But where good surfaces, the dark is always there trying to thwart it, and so it is with the children, as the evil forces try to stop them and steal the clues that they have found.

A fun adventure, and although it doesn't take place in another wold, it felt very reminiscent of The Chronicles of Narnia.I really enjoyed it, and I am excited to read the next book in the series.
Moonlight.aileen
I can see why this series was recommended to me. With intelligent, intrepid children entering the battle of good vs evil, and references to King Arthur, it would have been the perfect book for me to read as a child when my mom was trying to get me to branch out of Fantasy books. But there was something about it that I just couldn't love. Maybe it was the undercurrent of 1950s gender tropes? Maybe it was the accent of the audiobook narrator? Normally I'm fine with accents, but his was oddly norma I can see why this series was recommended to me. With intelligent, intrepid children entering the battle of good vs evil, and references to King Arthur, it would have been the perfect book for me to read as a child when my mom was trying to get me to branch out of Fantasy books. But there was something about it that I just couldn't love. Maybe it was the undercurrent of 1950s gender tropes? Maybe it was the accent of the audiobook narrator? Normally I'm fine with accents, but his was oddly normal until he placed the emphasis on a different syllable of a word than I would have.
Lilla
I remember picking up this book when I was in the 6th grade and loving it. This was a re-read for me, but because it was so long ago I had forgotten most of the details. I read this to my 6th graders, and they were skeptical at first, but the more we read the more they loved it. I do wish this series had more love as I think Cooper writes in a captivating and imaginative way. A perfect read for 6th and 7th grades, and a fun visit to a world I had almost forgotten. I will certainly read the entir I remember picking up this book when I was in the 6th grade and loving it. This was a re-read for me, but because it was so long ago I had forgotten most of the details. I read this to my 6th graders, and they were skeptical at first, but the more we read the more they loved it. I do wish this series had more love as I think Cooper writes in a captivating and imaginative way. A perfect read for 6th and 7th grades, and a fun visit to a world I had almost forgotten. I will certainly read the entire series over again.
Meg Hannah
Definitely a children's book, but well written enough and unpredictable enough to keep my interest. Doesn't "talk down" to the reader. The dialogue has a realistic feel (albeit slightly dated, since it was written in 1965), and there's a genuineness about the feelings and points of view.

Laced with interesting British history and legend, and "standing stones" are part of the plot---it's a different world from what most U.S. children inhabit. I think this book would have captured my imagination w Definitely a children's book, but well written enough and unpredictable enough to keep my interest. Doesn't "talk down" to the reader. The dialogue has a realistic feel (albeit slightly dated, since it was written in 1965), and there's a genuineness about the feelings and points of view.

Laced with interesting British history and legend, and "standing stones" are part of the plot---it's a different world from what most U.S. children inhabit. I think this book would have captured my imagination when I was young.

Mary
I know I have this book somewhere in my house, I just don't know where. Even though it is a children's book, and my children are now adults, I will buy it again if I cannot track it down. This is the first book in the "Dark is Rising" sequence. It introduces a group of children who later meet up with Will, who is the main protagonist in the second book, which is actually called "The Dark is Rising". The children all meet in the third book. This is a brilliant introduction to fantasy for children I know I have this book somewhere in my house, I just don't know where. Even though it is a children's book, and my children are now adults, I will buy it again if I cannot track it down. This is the first book in the "Dark is Rising" sequence. It introduces a group of children who later meet up with Will, who is the main protagonist in the second book, which is actually called "The Dark is Rising". The children all meet in the third book. This is a brilliant introduction to fantasy for children.
Tyas
This one doesn't feel quite magical as The Dark Is Rising, and the 'adventure by the sea and in dark caves' theme is probably overused in children book already nowadays, but the prose still shines.

What also makes me love this book is how the characters and the family life feel so natural.

What worries me right now is that I have three books of this sequence already, including the last one, but I haven't got two books in the middle. I think I should complete my collection first...
Tamara
One of my all time favorite books. I can't count the amount of times I have read this in the past 30 years!

Susan Cooper weaves Arthurian legend through a time-old story of good vs. evil. The Drew family is vacationing for the summer in Cornwall and find themselves on a chase for the Grail. Aided by their adopted uncle they find and solve the riddle of an old map, dodging and outsmarting the bad guys along the way. Great twist at the end - one kids of all ages will love!
Angel
gorgeous classic children's literature. give it to every child you know. the whole series is brilliant. i've been rereading my faded childhood copies(the "dark is rising" series) recently (at age 40) and they are as magical and well-written as i remember over 3 decades later. complex themes, characters with depth and the trust that children are much smarter and more insightful than we give them credit for in our contemporary culture.
Jessamy Barker
You have to have a tolerance for Enid Blyton style worlds with this one. The girls will be brave, but they are still very much girls (even referred to as 'girls' when grown women) and the boys are boys and the world is maybe pre war and this is basically Five and the Quest for the Grail. I grew up on Blyton and so while I rolled my eyes a bit I still enjoyed the read and went straight onto the next Dark is Rising book.
Ashley W
I read this book this summer in preparation for a fantasy themed Summer Reading Program at work (I'm a children's librarian). I have read many a children's fantasy book in my day, and this one is right up there with the best. I am very eager to read the rest of the series. The dark, ominous tone of the book is so gripping. I recently saw a movie preview for "The Dark is Rising" which peaked my curiosity even more.
Jon
I don't recall enjoying this nearly as much the first time (which, although awhile ago, was definitely as an adult). At that time, I got the order wrong and started with The Dark is Rising, so backing up was a little jarring. This time, though, I had a great time. The pacing's perfect and I really appreciated how the action divides among the children: sometimes all three, sometimes a pair, sometimes one of them. I suspect the US edition is edited ("flashlight").
Carl
A fun book with engaging protagonists and good movement through the story once the minor characters are moved to the periphery. I appreciated the gentle allusions and was caught up in the tense moments. Good work here.
The story touches on just enough interesting world-elements without satisfying curiosity to make this a good start to a series. I'm glad I have Dark is Rising beside my bed. I think I'll start it tonight.
Sarah
It was nearly there and yet felt the same as an typical 80's plot of highly intelligent children outwitting adults: think Scooby Doo set in England with King Arthur as the background. It got a Newberry award and I don't argue that it may have deserved it, but it doesn't seem to feel the classic it should have been.
Diane ~Firefly~
The basic story was good, but it seemed like it took too long to have anything happen. Three children find a treasure map and search for a treasure while trying to hide what they are doing from some adults after the same treasure. This book just moved too slow for me.
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The treasure is the Holy Grail and there is a lot of Arthurian legend involved.
Lisa
I think that I first read this book in 6th grade. or maybe 4th grade. Anyway, I love this young adult series. This, the first book, probably lured me in with the Arthurian legend references, the sense of adventure and risk for the 3 siblings, and the "exotic" location of seaside England. A comfort book for me, but I also hope that it holds the interest of young audiences today.
Aderyn Wood
I read this series as a child and loved it. Now, as an adult, I recognize that is in quite an older style of writing, and it probably needs an adverb trim to meet the standards of a modern audience. But the style is easily forgivable in the face of the story, mystery and characters. I love the sense of adventure too. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.
Jess Penhallow
So I'm giving this 4 stars. If I was judging it at face value it would be 3 but I'm not the target audience and 11 year old me would give this 5 stars in an instant so I'll split the difference. A great adventure story with some fantasy elements and some wonderful characters. I would recommend this to any tween.
Jane_doh
I really enjoyed this book. The part I loved the most was that I kept imagining Bronwyn, as a girl, on a lanai at home, reading (devouring) this book with wide-eyed joy. I felt a bit like I was getting a glimpse into B and what started her love of reading. I'd bet she identified with Jane, but I also bet she had a crush on Simon. I look forward to the rest of the series.
Leslie
This series is amazing! I read The Dark is Rising first, and was happy with that chronology. Susan Cooper is a wonderful writer, and each book draws the reader in--even though several of them have different protagonists (think Chronicles of Narnia). Don't let the lame cover art or age of the books fool you--read the series. You won't be disappointed.

#classroomlibrary
Jeff
A nice adventure story. A little slow in the beginning, but when it picks up it picks UP! The sense of the evil darkness is well conveyed. Some nice mysteries and suspense as well. Definitely whets the reader's appetite for the next book.
Stephanie
The first book in one of my all-time favorite children's series. Written in the late 60s and early 70s, they still hold up as classics. Very British. Love, love these books--am reading them so I can discuss with my 11-year-old, who is reading them after I do.
Hettie
I have to say that I was not to thrilled with the book. It felt much like a famous five book with slightly more thrill and a some King Arthur legend thrown in.

I am going to try the second book in the series hoping that it improves.
Beth
When I read this as a kid I'd get mad at the characters for making silly choices or being easily fooled, but reading this now their behavior seems just like I'd expect from children. I wonder if my high standards then were more accurate or my jaded expectations now?
M
liked it more than I thought I would. Reminiscient of Narnia, but the characters are quite a bit more real life than I expected. I think this is going to be a fun little good vs. evil series to read :)
Ariel
This has always been one of my favourite children's books. It's grabs you and brings you with it into a truly magical world. I read other books in the Dark is Rising series, but this is very much the best.
Quince Winstyn
Since this book contains a lot of medieval history and fiction, it's the right book for anyone interested in the holy grail, Merlin and other fun things from that time.

Its an amazing book and I strongly recommend reading it.
Jennifer
Re-read after 30 years. Still, exciting and mysterious, good versus evil. Cornwall is evocative of summer vacation. But, this time, I noticed the sexism with which Jane is portrayed. Boo!
Sissel
A quick and fun read. I've heard the second book in the sequence is much better, so I'll be starting The Dark is Rising next.
Daniel Hendon
This was a good book. It was a little slow at times, but if I remember correctly the series picks up with the second book and this one was plot and character development.
Peter N.
Read this to the boys. It starts slow, but picks up about half way through. It is the first book in a set and I understand that the subsequent ones are better.

David
Probably the third time I have read this series. Still a wonderful tale and I will probably read it again in the future.
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