Do you have a book that you re-read periodically? At least every few years? Sometimes more often?
For me, it’s The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. I have read thousands of books in my lifetime, but this book stands out as the one that captured my full heart, mind, and imagination. When I think of it, a hush falls over me. I respect this book on many levels.
Each time I read about Will Stanton, met with challenges that threaten his family, his village, not to mention his life, I am filled with wonder. How did the author write about such dire circumstances while keeping the reader assured that good would find a way to defeat evil?
That’s what I notice most about The Dark is Rising, even more than the other books in this series. Cooper writes about a sky laden with snow, the heaviness of it, the blanketing of feeling and sound. Surrounded by the menace of weather that shouldn’t be that way, the reader finds places of comfort. Family, the church, traditions, many of the villagers … these are people and parts of life that we can count on to support us, defend us, and surround us with love and security.
We’re living in a time where we’re aware of how much Dark there is in the world. This book is needed. Our movies and television shows and many books are filled with anti-heroes and problems that go unresolved because that is “real life.” We can change that.
I like to think there are really Old Ones out there, like Merriman Lyon and Miss Greythorne, who are looking out for world, leading the fight against the Dark. We can’t rely on Old Ones: we need to be reminded that it’s up to us to push the Dark back so the Light can shine brightly.
I enjoyed the romp of the first few Harry Potter books, but they are simply not as captivating and reassuring as The Dark is Rising. Susan Cooper writes with power, elegance, and a deep understanding of the human psyche. Each time I finish the book, I am convinced Ms. Cooper must be one of the Old Ones herself, fighting for the Light to prevail. We need her. Read this book yourself and give it to a young reader. Walk on the side of the Light.
(A side note: Do not be tempted to watch the movie The Seeker instead, which was purportedly based on The Dark is Rising. It is nothing like the book.)