In the run up the the festive season, a lady called Julia Bird, in conversation with Robert Macfarlane suggested a read along to one of my favourite books, The Dark Is Rising, by Susan Cooper.
I have spoken before about the huge impact these books had on me as a kid, and so I have joined in, with great enthusiasm. For those that don’t know the story, it’s a fantasy series that overlaps the world of the UK in the middle of the 20th Century with very deeply resonant myths from our deep past. Herne the Hunter features, and in the rest of the books so does Arthur, and a host of Welsh magicians and mythic kings. This particular book, the second in the cycle takes place over midwinter, starting on the eve of the solstice, and ending in the new year.
I decided I wanted to blog about it as I went, so here we go!
I re-read these books at least anually and normally devour them very fast, but reading in real time is making me slow down and appreciate them. I also have friends reading along for the first time, and that’s helping me see the story with new eyes. I had forgotten how utterly chilling the opening chapter is, as strange and vaguely threatening things start to happen around our protagonist, culminating in the terror in the night.
I had also forgotten how especially immediate writing for young people is. There is a wonderful moment when our hero wrestles with accepting power, and the responsibility and other-ness that comes with it. It is dealt with in a few lines of text, rather than chapters of agonising. But it doesn’t make his choice any less significant or meaningful. I am so far sticking to the rhythm of the story, so I am off now to read the section that takes place on Christmas Eves eve. If you are reading too I hope you are enjoying it! Maybe we can chat in the comments or on Twitter 🙂