Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Dark Is Rising

For the 2012 blogging from A to Z challenge, I'm writing to the theme of book series that I love. Mostly science fiction and fantasy, with a few others thrown in.

The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper is a five book young adult series set (mostly) in contemporary England while winding its way in and out of the old Arthur legends.

I was in the fifth grade when I first read Over Sea, Under Stone on assignment from my elementary school teacher. It was the tale of three British grade school children who embark on the quest for the holy grail. And to me, it was just another tale until the very last lines when Barnaby, the often discounted youngest sibling, comes to realize something marvelous about their uncle and sometimes accomplice Merriman Lyon. From there, it was the most amazing book of my young existence.

When the entire five book Dark is Rising sequence became available through Scholastic book order later that year, I told my mother I wanted to read these novels. She bought them, and one day the order arrived and I totted home the whole set.

The three siblings of Over Sea, Under Stone don't show back up for several novels, but instead we get to meet Will, the seventh son of a seventh son -- a boy fated to be the last of the Old Ones while still a child himself.

The entire sequence is heavily couched in Arthurian legend. At one point we even get to meet Arthur's legitimate son. And they are a curious and wondrous mix of contemporary world and times long gone past. But that's not what I remember most about the series.

I remember being eleven years-old and sitting on my covered front porch reading about Will one summer. In the novels it is winter; the ground is frozen and the snow is piled deep.

And then it begins to rain.

And then it began to rain in my world, at first a mist, then a light rain -- still, I sat and kept reading.

In the novel the rain comes and comes and comes. It melts the snow, but the ground is still frozen. The rain and the melted snow have no place to go and the world floods.

My mother came out onto the porch and asked if I wanted to go inside.

No. I wanted to keep reading. Keep reading in the downpour, with the rain withing reach but not touching me as Will raced through the novel, trapped in a downpour that was about to devour the world along with the Dark.

O, it was a wondrous moment.

Highly Recommended