Monday, February 21, 2011

The Dark is Rising

Cooper, S. (1973). The Dark is Rising. New York, NY: Margaret K. McElerry Books.

Plot Description:

It is the eve of his eleventh birthday and Will Stanton notices that things around him are a little strange. The animals are acting funny, there was a strange man on the road, and his neighbor gave him an unexpected gift of a bronze circle with a cross in it to wear on his belt. Will wakes up on his birthday to find the outside of his home covered in snow, but the outside has changed, it no longer looks like it typically does, instead his house is on the edge of the woods. Will attempts to wake his siblings, but they keep sleeping. Will leaves his house to check out the snow. On his walk he sees that where his neighbor’s house once was is now a blacksmith shop, and his neighbor is a blacksmith. He is putting shoes on a black horse for a man dressed all in black. The Black Rider scares Will and he feels as if he shouldn’t trust him. The blacksmith advises will to get on a white horse that appears and he is taken by the horse to ornate wood doors. It is here that Will meets Merriman Lyon and the Lady and is told his fate. He is the seventh son of a seventh son and although he is only 11, Will is told that he is the last of the Old Ones, born to conquer the Dark. Will’s duty is the sign seeker and he must find all of the six signs (such as the one given to him from the blacksmith neighbor). As the days progress Will learns more of his fate, his powers, and sees that he can live in between time, moving from one era to another to find the signs. With the help of Merriman and the other Old Ones, Will must find the six signs and battle the Dark.


I really wanted to get into this book, but just as with the first book in the series, it didn’t completely grab me. I felt that it was a little slow at times and very dark. There was a lot going on and I often found myself confused. Aside from that, it is well written. Susan Cooper uses vocabulary above what one would typically find in a tween novel encouraging tweens to read up. I believe that my issues with the book have less to do with how it was written and more about me and what I look for in a book. I know plenty of people who loved this book as a tween and it is a Newbery Honor book, but I personally didn’t really enjoy it. In books about good versus evil, I prefer there to be more of a balance between the two. I felt that this book was overwhelmingly dark, I would have liked some relief from that as I read.


fantasy, mystery

Reading Level:

Ages 9 - 12

Similar Books:

Harry Potter series; Over Sea, Under Stone series


good versus evil, family, siblings


Newbery Honor Book

Character Names/Descriptions:

Will Stanton: Eleven year old boy, he is the seventh son of a seventh son, he is the last born of the Old Ones who are meant to conquer the Dark, he is the sign seeker

Merriman Lyon: Older man, Old One, assists Will on his quest to find the signs

Series Information:

This is the second book in Susan Cooper's "The Dark is Rising" series. This series consists of five books, one of which won a Newbery medal and one which received a Newbery honor.


On his eleventh birthday Will Stanton discovers that there is more in store for him in his life than he could have dreamed imaginable. His destiny is to be an Old One, the sign seeker, he must work with other Old Ones to defeat the Dark.

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