I have just finished reading Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper, the first book in the Dark is Rising sequence. This has been somewhat of a emotional re read for me having read this book at a fairly young age and never having read it again since, now i am wandering why....
Anyway, OSUS really is a traditional story at its heart of a quest for the grail of legend that was sought by King Arthur and the knights of the round table. It is a wonderful story in many ways, a story of a seaside holiday to Cornwall and the discovery of the something mysterious, ancient and dangerous. I love the chapter when Great Uncle Merry and the children sit atop the headland and discuss the history of the Light and the Dark and the importance of the manuscript discovered in the Grey House.
It really is a wonderful novel, Susan Cooper is simply wonderful at creating simple, descriptive prose and a knack for some great dialogue. The characters really come to life through their conversation, the Drew children really seem like the family that lives next door. As the book develops and the story opens up, you can really see how Susan Cooper captures the rhythms of their speech and the joy and affection they feel for one another.
As a child reading this, i can see how i was easily drawn to this and to adopt the children's attitude towards the people they encountered as well as the situations. Re reading this as a more cynical adult as well a veteran fantasy reader, i appreciate it even more. I noticed how well the narrative plays with the reader and understood Jane's real disdain of Polly Withers and much later the cat and mouse play by Cooper to the allegiances of Mrs Palk.
I will end this entry with a curiosity, i found this book very hard to put down, the twists and turns were so wonderfully handled (i couldn't remember them) and the tension really does rise as the story progresses. I will have a quick break before starting on my favourite novels as a child "The Dark is Rising", this is of course where the story really opens up and the machinations of the Dark is touched upon more than in OSUS. I really cannot wait to re read the entire series either, happy reading to all.
Beware the Old ones are returning.