Tuesday, November 28, 2006

So. This morning I read The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper.

All I can say is "Where has this book been all my life?" Because seriously? Someone should have shoved it in my hot little hands back in 1974 when it first hit the U.S. I would've read it. And read it again. And then, I'd have read the rest of the books. And again. Of course, this is the same sort of comment I have about Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quartet, although really that's slightly premature of me since thus far I've only read A Wrinkle in Time (twice) and A Wind in the Door. But I so loved them that I can't imagine the other two being bad. They are safely stowed somewhere in the aforementioned gigantic pile of books to be read. But I digress.

If, like me, you are a complete nincompoop who somehow managed not to read Cooper's The Dark is Rising yet, then you must immediately smack yourself soundly in the forehead with the nearest book run out and get a copy. I got mine from the local library, bearing the original cover, btw, which is no longer visible on most websites. Of course, I didn't realize at the time that it was, in fact, the SECOND book in the five-book Dark Is Rising Sequence. I will be returning it to the library today, and then finding Over Sea, Under Stone, the first book, so I can learn more about one of my favorite characters from The Dark is Rising, Merriam, since I understand that the first book is about him.

The Dark Is Rising tells the story of a young boy named Will Stanton, who lives in Buckhinghamshire, England in the early 1970s with his large family. We meet Will on Mid-Winter's Eve, the day before his eleventh birthday, just as Will begins to notice that odd things are afoot. The animals are all weirded out, and a tramp has been following Will, and even some of the local folks that Will has known for years are acting strangely and offering ominous advice.

When Will wakes to a different world on Mid-Winter's Day, he begins to learn his own story. Although still fairly young, Will is one of the Old Ones -- immortals who exist in order to keep the world out of the clutches of the Darkness. (And no, I'm not talking about The Darkness.) Will has about 2-1/2 weeks to learn all he can about who he is, and to collect Six Signs to help ward off the Darkness, which is set on preventing his success.

Fantastic, in both senses of the word. And to think, the only reason I picked it up is because of this post by J.L. Bell at Oz and Ends, coupled with The Mighty Dotificus's excitement over Susan Cooper being at the upcoming SCBWI conference in NYC. And now I so understand her excitement. I may even have to attend, just to hear Susan Cooper for myself. And to meet the Mighty Dotificus, of course.

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