Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Dark Is Rising 40th Anniversary Readathon

Well, this one is a no-brainer for me! Thanks to Kristen over at We Be Reading for pointing me toward Danny Whittaker's Readathon. Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising sequence is an old favourite. I've reread it multiple times, but it's been a few years. (40th anniversary, huh? I'm not going to say that I'm starting to feel old, but . . .)

I'm a few days late for the start, but I'm sure I can catch up! If any of you have missed out on this seminal fantasy series, now's a great time to amend that distressing gap in your reading history. (There are a number of different editions, and I can't say I love any of the covers, but I have a particular fondness for the Penguin Over Sea, Under Stone and the Collier Greenwich, illustrated below. I think they captured Merriman and the Greenwitch particularly well.)

First, you'll meet Simon, Jane, and Barnaby Drew, children on vacation in a Cornwall village with their Great Uncle Merriman Lyon. They discover an old map in the attic, and it soon becomes apparent that this map leads to something of great importance, if they can only decipher it . . . That's Over Sea, Under Stone.

Then in The Dark is Rising you'll meet Will Stanton, the seventh son of a seventh son. And you'll find out who Merriman Lyon really is.

Don't worry, the Drew children come back in the third book, Greenwitch, and show up for the climax of the battle between Light and Dark in Silver on the Tree, along with the mysterious boy Bran, whom Will meets in The Grey King. There may or may not be references to King Arthur, here and there about the series, and lots of real places in Britain and Wales with real historical or mythical associations.

Here, for example, is Cader Idris, home of the Grey King:

And nestled at its feet (you can sort of see the lake in the picture above, if you look closely) is Llyn Cau:

And this is the breath of the Grey King: a sudden fog rushing up the mountainside. She did not make this up:

When I found out these were real places, I rearranged my trip to Wales so that I could hike up and take these photos. Just for you!

Now you have to go read the books!

(Okay, I hadn't actually started blogging when I went to Wales. So maybe I didn't take the pictures just for you. But now you have them! So you still have to read the books.)


  1. Your pictures are gorgeous! They definitely seem like a good place for a battle between dark and light. I'm glad you're doing the readathon too! I'm reading one other book and then I think I'll go back for Silver on the Tree. It will be a little sad to have the series conclude for the first time but I'm already looking forward to my first reread!

    1. I envy you a little, discovering these books for the first time, but I also wouldn't give up the way this series shaped my imagination as a child.

  2. Nice photos! And thanks for the mention, Kim!