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The Dark Is Rising

(The Dark Is Rising #2)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  48,575 ratings  ·  2,222 reviews
"When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back, three from the circle, three from the track; wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone; five will return, and one go alone.”

With these mysterious words, Will Stanton discovers on his 11th birthday that he is no mere boy. He is the Sign-Seeker, last of the immortal Old Ones, destined to battle the powers of evil that troub
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 8th 2007 by Margaret K. McElderry (first published 1973)
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MICHAEL No - this book stands on its own. If you enjoyed John Masefield's 'Box of Delights' you'll enjoy reading this - even meeting up with Herne the Hunter…moreNo - this book stands on its own. If you enjoyed John Masefield's 'Box of Delights' you'll enjoy reading this - even meeting up with Herne the Hunter again! Storms, Deep Snow and Floods all help set the scene.(less)
GeraniumCat One character is shared between the two books, Merriman Lyon. The storylines of the first two books are quite separate, only weaving together in the…moreOne character is shared between the two books, Merriman Lyon. The storylines of the first two books are quite separate, only weaving together in the later books.(less)

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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  48,575 ratings  ·  2,222 reviews

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Aug 20, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, favorites, box-3
Getting my brother (12) to read is liking getting a cat to take a bath, getting a high-schooler to go to school, getting a cheerleader to go to computer club.
All those really difficult things in life.

I read this series myself about a year or two ago, so when he needed a book to do for literature in his homeschool, I suggested that he pick this one and I'd do it with him.

He moaned and groaned and hated life, that he'd have to do something so awful as reading.
I just shrugg
Apr 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: boy wizards, Old Ones, everyone
Originally read: 1979

My absolute favorite series as a child. One of these days I need to reread it. (ETA: see below.) A bit like Harry Potter, but darker in tone (and of course, Will Stanton predates Harry Potter by decades). A shame that Hollywood's treatment of this classic book was so epically bad. It should be noted that while technically this is book two in the series, the saga really begins here, with Over Sea, Under Stone being a prequel of sorts.

Reread: 2013

I first read this book when/>Reread:(
Dec 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The one of my heart. But not entirely a book of childhood. Unlike the rest of the series, this one is layered all through young adulthood for me. I read it countless times as a wee thing, of course, but it was also my book on a horrible flight home from Oxford after Trinity Term, and what I read the week I retired my first guide dog, and what I read in tiny pieces in the month after I lost my eye. Looking at that list is one of those foreheadslap moments where you notice that narrative refrain i ...more
I suspect that the books of this sequence are among the most beautiful I've read. I get that feeling especially with this book. The tone here has changed already from the Blyton-esque kids-on-a-great-adventure of the first book, and the character is different accordingly. It's almost a bildungsroman, for all that we only see less than a month of an eleven year old boy's life.

One of the main things I love about this sequence, particularly from this book on, is the characterisation. Wh
Reread. I saw the trailer for the upcoming movie—and more importantly, I saw Darcy's furious reaction to the trailer for the upcoming movie, and I realized that I didn't remember these books well enough to be properly furious myself. I read the first two in the series, in the wrong order, when I was much younger, but didn't recall being particularly engaged by them, which was why I never continued. I figured that, rereading them as an adult, I'd see the error of my ways.

Sadly, I didn
Sep 28, 2012 rated it liked it
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper is a young adult fantasy novel first published in 1973.

The second book in the series of the same name, apparently the first book, Over Sea, Under Stone, was written for a younger audience and provides more of a prequel than a beginning point.

This book tells the tale of Will Stanton, who on his eleventh birthday learns that he is an Old One, a member of a group with magical powers who represent the Light, opposed to the members of the Dark. Cooper uses colorful Celt
Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Slightly ahead of the ideal time to read this book — which would be veeery slowly, a chapter or two at a time, over the Twelve Days of Christmas. I never have the patience for that! As usual, I loved The Dark is Rising; the quiet moments of enchantment, the beautiful writing, the warmth of the family relationships and the reality of the bickering, protective group of siblings. There’s more adult, complicated stuff as well as simple squabbling among siblings: the whole relationship between Merrim ...more
With The Dark is Rising, Susan Cooper sets the stage for a sweeping fantasy saga about nothing in particular.

When Will Stanton, an English lad from an unusually large family, turns twelve, he finds out he is an Old One - a being of great and mysterious powers who can hop in and out of human time and space anytime he chooses. Occasionally assisted by Merriman Lyon, who was once called Merlin and is now passing himself off as an archaeology professor, Will sets off to assist The Light, who ar
Jonathan Terrington
Sep 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: classics readers, children's fiction readers, fantasy readers

'When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back;
Three from the circle, three from the track;
Wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone;
Five will return, and one go alone.'

'Iron for the birthday, bronze carried long;
Wood from the burning, stone out of song;
Fire in the candle-ring, water from the thaw;
Six Signs the circle, and the grail gone before.'

'Fire on the mountain shall find the harp of gold
Played to wake the Sleepers, oldest
Sep 16, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
3.5 . . . maybe. A good story; well told. It fits neatly between The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter. Very English; magical realm beyond the mundane; contemporary (more or less) to the time of writing; YA that should appeal to adults, but it doesn't have the--dare I use this word?--magic.

William, the eleven year old protagonist, is too passive. He floats through the book's big crises more as observer than an actor. Great things happen around him, but the reader does not feel th
Nov 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. I really thought I was going to like this more than I did. It was well-written and the premise of a story was interesting. I just never really got into the story and found myself waiting for something exceptional to happen. Unfortunately, it didn't. That said, it wasn't a bad book and, being short, it didn't take too long to get through.
Oct 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-children
Stop me if you've heard this one: A boy living in England discovers on his 11th birthday that he has special powers. An early encounter with an enemy leaves him with a scar. With guidance from a few mentors, he is trained and learns about the Dark, which he can vanquish by collecting several ancient objects.

Well, putting aside my increasing irritation with J.K. Rowling's lack of originality, I really enjoyed this (earlier) novel, which was surprisingly well-written. (Especially compa
Melissa McShane
12/15/16: More of my Christmas reading. This time, I'm struck as I never was as a teen how very bleak Cooper's universe of Light and Dark is. The Old Ones, for all they come from human families (presumably, if Will Stanton is representative) are not even a little bit human, and Light and Dark clash in ways that care nothing for individual men and women. Their battle isn't for the sake of human salvation, it's for things and forces far, far beyond human concerns. This becomes most evident in Silv ...more
Read this for the second time ever for the #DarkIsReading challenge. I had forgotten a great deal of it, like the fact that it takes place between the Winter Solstice and Twelfth Night. I remembered that it was Will's 11th birthday, but not the significance of the date/s.

It has been really interesting to read it now, with a community, and see how many people were influenced by this book and series. I can also see how it has influenced modern middle grade fantasies.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
3.75 stars. Long past childhood, I read this book for this first time. High marks for the fabulous writing (see excerpt below) and for the vivid setting (I felt I was there, during the Christmas season, in Hunterscombe, England).

The plot is fairly gripping -- especially the scene in the church on Christmas Day, after everyone left, and the scene in Will's home, when a VERY unwelcome guest was invited to come in, and the scenes of the bone-biting deep-freeze that struck. Other good scenes come to mi/>The
May 09, 2008 rated it it was ok
I saw the movie "The Seeker" which I now use as a standard to judge all movies I really dislike; but I was required by my class to read it so I did.
Honestly, the book was entertaining. But I still didn't like it for multiple reasons:
The beginning was really hard to follow. Susan Cooper needs to make it less work for the reader to try and figure out what's going on. The plot was good; the classic battle between the darkness and the light. But Will Stanton didn't have to make any sacrifices
Ben Babcock
I’m trying to think of how many other books’ sequels are more notable than the books themselves. The Dark is Rising is the second book in the sequence, yet it was the one that got adapted into an apparently awful film, and it was the one that gave its title to the entire series. I suppose I can see why. Of the first two books, it more stereotypically conforms to the monomyth and has that “epic” quality one desires in “epic fantasy”. Over Sea, Under Stone is firmly a juvenile adventure, whereas the threats ...more
Sadie Slater
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Dark is Rising has been one of my favourite books ever since I first read it aged about seven. Given its midwinter setting, it's a book I often re-read at Christmas, though I hadn't done so for a few years; the last time I tried was in 2010, when it snowed heavily the weekend before Christmas and the snow didn't melt until almost New Year, and somehow having actual snow outside and bitter cold instead of the normal damp mild greyness of December made it seem far too bleak and real, and I had to put it ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Oct 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Not impressed. Comparing these to Lewis and Tolkien is a BIG stretch. This is the second book in the series and I must say I was seriously disappointed. The comparison to Lewis or Tolkien probably caused me to drop my rating...I even considered a one. Decide for yourself about this but There is for me a feeling of what could have been in these books. The writing itself isn't the problem it's just (and this is my opinion) the story feels awfully flawed.

I wanted this to be a better boo
Dec 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bettie, Wanda
From BBC Radio 4:
This night will be bad and tomorrow will be beyond imagining. It's Midwinter's Eve, the day before Will's eleventh birthday. But there is an atmosphere of fear in the familiar countryside around him. This will be a birthday like no other. Will discovers that he has the power of the Old Ones, and that he must embark on a quest to vanquish the terrifyingly evil magic of the Dark.
This is an adaption of the second book in the series collectively entitled "The Dark is Ris
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has maybe one of my favourite ways of looking at England, the country and people:

"He saw one race after another come attacking his island country, bringing each time the malevolence of the Dark with them, wave after wave of ships rushing inexorably at the shores. Each wave of men in turn grew peaceful as it grew to know and love the land, so that the Light flourished again."

It doesn't quite work, I think: there's the issue of colonialism, which was arguably wave after wave of/>"He
Feb 27, 2008 rated it it was ok
I read this many years ago, and liked it. When the movie came out (not a very good movie), I wondered what my 43-year-old self would think of my hazy memory of what my 14-year-old self had thought. Turns out my 14-year-old self wasn't much of a critic. The Dark is Rising was quite disappointing, making it all the more surprising that it won awards and stuff. I guess I can kind of see why--the writing is at least meant to seem deep. The fact that it has a literary style of any kind is a novelty, ...more
John Jarrold
Sep 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I first read this when it was released, around 40 years ago (I was already in my late teens, but I've never seen age as a barrier to reading good books, no matter what age range they were intended for). The entire sequence is terrific, but this is the book I always come back to - often at Christmas, when the book is set. Will Stanton's 11-year-old jump from straightforward boyhood into a world of mysticism and magic is brilliantly described, and the story moves at a perfect pace. What can I say? ...more
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reviewed for The Bibliophibian.

It strikes me, reading these books now, that just as Tolkien tried to write ‘a mythology for England’, so did Cooper try to write ‘a mythology for Britain’. This book is addressed rather insularly to the British reader — the Old Ones are ‘as old as this land’, not ‘as old as Britain’: the reader is assumed to be British. However, and this is a relief for me, the reader is rarely if ever assumed to be a child or to belong to a particular era or group of people. Cooper is
There is pretty much nothing I did not love about this reread, whether it was the hazy fondness of nostalgia or the sheer delight from the story in and of itself.

Oh, Will Stanton. I adore him at thirty almost as much as I did at ten. I love how visceral both his fear and wonder are. I love HIS FAMILY. Sorry, Drews; the Stantons kick your ass. I love the push and pull between Will-as-Old-One and Will-as-youngest-Stanton - the contrast between Wise Magical Dude and little boy never fails to delight.

It is a long time since I last read this series, and this 2nd part of the series is very well done indeed. If reading book 1 was a throwback to an earlier time and structure (and, as noted, not a bad thing), this book is leap-years beyond. Well-written - evocative and visual descriptions that add significantly to the tone and atmosphere. Well-structured - great pacing, with tension derived from a variety of situations, not the least, Will's family. Well-built - with enough background and story t ...more
Aug 16, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, young_adult
I wouldn't say I totally enjoyed the first in this series (Over Sea, Under Stone), but at least the kids were active in searching for the treasure. Here in the second book we have a main character that doesn't really do anything---he's around when things happen but that isn't nearly the same thing.

When you start a story off by having a character learn he must find certain objects, you figure the searching will be an exciting, complicated part of the plot. In this book he is either lead to each pla(Over
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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 universi

Other books in the series

The Dark Is Rising (5 books)
  • Over Sea, Under Stone
  • Greenwitch
  • The Grey King
  • Silver on the Tree
“The snow lay thin and apologetic over the world. That wide grey sweep was the lawn, with the straggling trees of the orchard still dark beyond; the white squares were the roofs of the garage, the old barn, the rabbit hutches, the chicken coops. Further back there were only the flat fields of Dawson's farm, dimly white-striped. All the broad sky was grey, full of more snow that refused to fall. There was no colour anywhere.” 21 likes
“It is a burden...(M)ake no mistake about that. Any great gift or power or talent is a burden and this more than any, and you will long to be free of it. But there is nothing to be done. If you were born with the gift, then you must serve it, and nothing in this world or out of it may stand in the way of that service, because that is why you were born and that is the Law."
- Susan Cooper ("Merriman" The Dark is Rising)”
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