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Over Sea, Under Stone

(The Dark Is Rising #1)

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3.86  ·  Rating details ·  41,518 ratings  ·  2,038 reviews
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 th ...more
Paperback, 196 pages
Published May 25th 2004 by Aladdin Paperbacks (first published 1965)
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Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) For one thing, it came out in 1965, 51 years ago. For another, it deals with classical stuff--King Arthur, quests, etc. The author uses proper grammar…moreFor one thing, it came out in 1965, 51 years ago. For another, it deals with classical stuff--King Arthur, quests, etc. The author uses proper grammar because she was born in 1935, and because up until the last 10 years or so, in order to be considered for publication (back in the days when "book" meant "paper and a hard cover") you had to be able to write grammatically correct English. (less)
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3.86  · 
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 ·  41,518 ratings  ·  2,038 reviews


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mark monday
a slight but winning intro into a phenomenal series. this opening book follows the Drew children on summer holiday in Cornwall as they hurtle breathlessly from place to place, ancient map in hand and Arthurian treasure awaiting them as they skillfully avoid the forces of evil.

this is probably my 3rd or 4th time reading this book, and this particular time found me more amused than impatient. once upon a time, a long time ago, I started this series by reading The Dark Is Rising - and Over Sea, Ove
...more
karen
Jul 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
how great is ariel?? ariel is exactly this great:



i had never read this series, but had always wanted to. so ariel straight up mailed it to me! like santa! in june!

ariel, i have also always wanted a choker made of rubies and emeralds and sweet sweet diamonds.

while i am waiting for that,i will write a review for this book. obviously, there are going to be comparisons to that narnia series - british siblings shuttled off to a spooky house with secret passageways behind a wardrobe with an eccentric
...more
Rebecca McNutt
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a short yet fast-paced, exciting and thrilling middle-grade novel, definitely much more amazing than I initially thought.
Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten* by: Meg Hopp
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.
...more
Nick T. Borrelli
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The first book of my all-time favorite children's fantasy series. Yes Harry Potter is amazing, The Chronicles of Prydain is exceptional, Redwall is pretty fantastic. But for my money, Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series ranks as my #1 favorite. It has everything - an Arthurian theme, witches, the Holy Grail, Celtic Mythology, fun characters, and the writing is just superb. It's no wonder these books garnered a ton of awards because it really does stand out like a shimmering diamond in the c ...more
Jason Koivu
Nov 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
A Nancy Drew-esque adventure in which some kids with the last name Drew attempt to find the Holy Grail.

"Another book on the Arthur legend?" I groaned before commencing a hearty dismissive snore. I guess I didn't read the description close enough on Goodreads or on the back of the book. I knew it was YA, but expected magic. Even sampling of it. This was not the fantasy novel I was looking for.

These days reading about three English kids romping around the Cornwall seaside in search of King Arthur
...more
Ben Babcock
Over Sea, Under Stone reminds me of that endless string of ’80s and ’90s movies featuring plucky groups of child protagonists outwitting bumbling adult villains. You know the ones I mean—The Goonies is probably the most famous example, but there are others. Children get into real danger and use a combination of courage and clever planning to defeat the bad guys and save the day. In this case, Simon, Jane, and Barney work together to decipher a medieval treasure map that could lead to the Grail o ...more
Nikki
It’s time for a The Dark is Rising sequence readathon again! If you wish to join, you can do so via this blog. It’s the perfect time of year to reread the books, at least the second one in particular, with the winter solstice coming up. I always try and read them around this time of year!

With that said, here goes my millionth (ish) review of Over Sea, Under Stone. I’ve noted before that it’s basically an Enid Blyton adventure/mystery story, with Arthurian trappings. This time through, I noticed
...more
Nikki
Very few people [who know me at all:] are unaware that The Dark Is Rising is possibly my favourite series of books in the history of ever. Still, I haven't done a series of proper reviews for them, which is a horrible shame, and I'm going to do that this time through.

This is probably the fifteenth time I've read Over Sea, Under Stone, give or take a few times. Someone I knew recommended skipping it, since it's the most childish book in the series -- written, if I recall correctly, well before th
...more
Lightreads
Dec 28, 2008 rated it liked it
I am on a serious childhood nostalgia bender over here. Let that be a warning to you.

This series came back to me like a bolt from the blue on a perfectly normal day last week, and I suddenly had to read it right now. But, fantastic, no problem, I thought. When I originally read these books -- and read them, and read them, and read them -- it was on cassette. The good old National Library Service for the Blind cassettes in their snap plastic cases. And the NLS has been busily digitizing the colle
...more
Barb Middleton
Aug 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I wanted to like this but couldn't sink my teeth into the plot or characters. Jane, Simon, and Barney, go with their parents to Cornwall to visit their Uncle Merry. The three explore the old grey house and discover an ancient map that puts them on the quest for the Holy Grail. The forces of Dark want the map too for its unlimited power and with the help of Uncle Merry it is a mad race to see who can find it first. The threesome are not sure who is good or bad and their innocent trust oftentimes ...more
Nikki
Reviewed for The Bibliophibian.

At one point, I read The Dark is Rising trilogy at Christmas every year, lining up the timeline of The Dark is Rising itself with the season, as the most obviously timed event in the books. I still maintain that it’s a good series: Cooper did some clever things with mythology and history. I recently read an article by Michael D.C. Drout, ‘Reading the Signs of the Light’, which made that very clear (though that essay is more focused on the second book of the series
...more
Kristy Miller
Dec 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is the first book of Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising cycle. The Dark is Rising is actually the second book in the series, and much like another famous English fantasy series **coughNarniacough**, the second book is the better one; though in that case you get in to written chronology versus story chronology, and the conversation becomes complicated. I hadn’t read this first one since my early teens. And while it is good, I can’t wait to get the next one in the series. I also noticed many simil ...more
Cherie
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this story. I know that it is aimed a young reading group, but it was exciting and fun. There was enough mystery and danger to keep me wanting to listen. I am looking forward to the next book in the series to see what is next in store for the Drew children and their Great Uncle Merry.
J.M. Hushour
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the shit out of this series when I was a kid. I still have the above original copy I read as a kid. I haven't re-read them in years but they still stand out as some of, perhaps THE, best series of "fantastic" novels for children.
Revel in children's literature before the age of film adaptations, farting cartoon rabbits, and social messages being fuck-squared into the trapezoid of literary mediocrity!
Three English kids go on holiday to Trewissick in Cornwall (a fictional version of Mevagiss
...more
David
It's been many, many years since I first read this series. It was one of my favorites as a child, so I just recently bought the boxed set to work my way through it again.

Over Sea, Under Stone is, if I recall correctly, not really part of the main series, being more of an introduction to the war between Light and Dark, with few of the characters appearing in the later books, except of course for Merriman Lyon. I remember even as a kid thinking that this was the least interesting book in the serie
...more
Nikki
It'll surprise no one who knows me that I'm rereading this set of books at this time of year: Over Sea, Under Stone is more of a summer book, I suppose, but the one most rooted in a particular time of year is The Dark is Rising, the second book, in winter. (The runner-up would be The Grey King, set in the autumn around Samhain.) So I imagine that a few more reviews of these books will be added to my total before the end of the year...

I read Over Sea, Under Stone in one go, this time. There are s
...more
Kaitlin
Mar 19, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was bad... Really bad. I think maybe if I had read this as a young child it wouldn't have bothered me, but reading this as an adult it wasn't a good read....

I picked this book up as a recent Magical Space Pussycats read and I had hoped to enjoy reading a kid's fiction for once. Unfortunately this story really suffered from prejudices and poor writing so I found myself getting more and more frustrated page by page.

In this story we not only see three young British Middle-class children m
...more
Laura
On vacation with their Great Uncle Merry three young children stumble upon an old map and suddenly they are thrust into an adventure they never could have imagined.

The beginning was a little slow getting into it and I even considered discarding it, but as I trudged along through it I found myself getting more and more intrigued. It had a feeling of The Chronicles of Narnia mixed with Nancy Drew, making it suspenseful, but fitting into the Fantasy mold. I wanted to read it because of the recent m
...more
C-shaw
May 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great kids' adventure story. Thanks to Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) for the recommendation. I believe she said it was similar to the Narnia stories, but with a vague good vs. evil theme rather than deliberately Christian based. I was thrilled by the scenes where the kids were chased by the bad guys, particularly when they were creeping through caves and crawling over rocks on the Cornish coast. My kind of excitement! I will read the sequels.
Richard
This book is the first of a series. It has a weird family resemblance to the Chronicles of Narnia: some children explore a mysterious old house while on holiday by the Cornish seaside. There is even a wardrobe, albeit not one that functions as a conduit to a magical world. The book seems to start off somewhat slowly but builds up to a very tense climax near the end, as Simon, Jane and Barnabas Drew grapple with the powers of evil aided by Great-Uncle Merry and a lovable dog named Rufus.
Stephen
Oct 14, 2008 rated it it was ok
2.0 to 2.5 stars. A well written, original fantasy story. While written for a younger audience, it is in no ways condescending to them. First in the "Dark is Rising " sequence, this book introduces readers to the ages old battle between the Light and the Dark. Not a bad read.
Joyce
What can I say. It's winter; we're snowed in; temperatures will be plummeting. Time to reread, even if it means returning to a children's series that I only discovered as an adult. This is the first of the Dark is Rising series, and although I've read the Dark is Rising, the second book in the series, more than once, I thought this time I'd indulge myself and start at the beginning and read them through. They are quest stories, rich in Arthurian lore with bits of magic with history and artifacts ...more
Mathew
It was an absolute treat to revisit this book and begin again on the Dark is Rising journey. There is much to like about Cooper's writing, her characters and sense of place are strong but deep within the veins of the words is this sense of a connection with our history and heritage. I'm a suckler for anything with monoliths and megaliths in and this was is full to the brim. Not only that but much like The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, there is this search and connection with an ancient past that I ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
May 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Ages 12-15
Shelves: children
Three stars from the adult me. When I first read and raved about this series (or as much of it as I could find when I was in middle school--I think I never got hold of Vol 5), it would have been a solid five--or perhaps 7! I was King Arthur-mad in those days, and "fantasy fiction" was a relatively new phenomenon in my environment. The story of three siblings (and a dog) who search for the Holy Grail in Cornwall, dodging bad guys as they go, was just my drop in those days. I didn't remember anyth ...more
Paul
"Over Sea, Under Stone" is the first of five books in Susan Cooper's classic "The Dark is Rising" sequence. In it, three children on holiday in Cornwall stumble upon an ancient map, and quickly find themselves embroiled in a race against both time and the forces of The Dark to find an ancient treasure. Aided by their mysterious Great-Uncle Merry, Simon, Jane and Barney can only depend on themselves, as familiar faces turn out to hide menacing intent, and the sunny shores of their vacation spot c ...more
Nikki
I don't know how many times I've read this book, but it's a good candidate for the argument in the Feedback forums for sorting out multiple read dates -- I must've read it at least twenty times, I suppose, and one day I'm going to run out of editions on GoodReads to shelve. Never mind.

I really have nothing new to say about this book, of course: it's comfort reading of the first order, for me. I think I used to say that as this is the most childish book of the sequence, it can be skipped, but hon
...more
Ashlee Willis
Jun 10, 2013 rated it liked it
My 8 year old son would have given this book a higher rating I am sure. I think he must be more patient than I am. But I had trouble making it through this book for some reason. From the too-drawn-out events that happened in the story, to the maddening way the children had of foolishly doing the exact wrong thing time and again, to the author's attempt to utterly drown the readers in adverbs...I was ready for this book to be over when we were barely halfway through. That being said, it wasn't a ...more
Maree
Aug 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a great kid's book. I'm really surprised I've never read it before, actually, and now I really want to finish the series.

It's a really typical story in that the kids find a treasure map and get to it. But it's got the more serious aspect, a fight against evil, buried in the history of King Arthur and his fight. I'm also a fan of Arthurian legend, so it was neat to have that side of the story as well.

The real thing that made me like this book was that I was actually worried for them. I w
...more
Rosemary Atwell
Sep 23, 2016 rated it liked it
I've been wanting to read this series for many years and the book is a perfect escape from stressful uni study! I really enjoyed the brisk, engaging writing that vividly described this lovely part of England and I wanted more than anything to follow Barney, Jane and Simon as they moved from harbour to rocky outcrops to little bays and beaches in search of the Grail.
It helps if you're familiar with the Arthurian legend and Merlin, but really anyone can enjoy this timeless adventure story and, let
...more
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Seeking Tumnus podcast review of Over Sea, Under Stone 1 6 Sep 13, 2017 04:03PM  
Silver Stag Book ...: Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper 2 16 Jan 03, 2014 08:24PM  
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Susan Cooper's latest book is the YA novel "Ghost Hawk" (2013)

Susan Cooper was born in 1935, and grew up in England's Buckinghamshire, an area that was green countryside then but has since become part of Greater London. As a child, she loved to read, as did her younger brother, who also became a writer. After attending Oxford, where she became the first woman to ever edit that university's newspap
...more

Other books in the series

The Dark Is Rising (5 books)
  • The Dark Is Rising
  • Greenwitch
  • The Grey King
  • Silver on the Tree
“Once upon a time... a long time ago... things that happened once perhaps but have been talked about for so long that nobody really knows. And underneath all the bits that people have added the magic swords and lamps they're all about one thing - the good hero fighting the giant or the witch or the wicked uncle. Good against bad. Good against evil.” 29 likes
“You remember the fairy tales you were told when you were very small - 'once upon a time...' Why do you think they always began like that?"
"Because they weren't true," Simon said promptly.
Jane said, caught up in the unreality of the high remote place, "Because perhaps they were true once, but nobody could remember them.”
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