Category Archives: Cooper, Susan

2022: Book 32 – Greenwitch by Susan Cooper

by Susan Cooper
Rating: ★★★★
Series: The Dark is Rising #3
Publication Date: January 1, 1974
Genre: fantasy, YA
Pages: 153
ReRead?: Yes
Project: Mt. TBR 2022

Simon, Jane, and Barney, enlisted by their mysterious great-uncle, arrive in a small coastal town to recover a priceless golden grail stolen by the forces of evil -- Dark. They are not at first aware of the strange powers of another boy brought to help, Will Stanton -- nor of the sinister significance of the Greenwitch, an image of leaves and branches that for centuries has been cast into the sea for good luck in fishing and harvest. Their search for the grail sets into motion a series of distubing, sometimes dangerous events that, at their climax, bring forth a gift that, for a time at least, will keep the Dark from rising.

I’m at that point in the Dark is Rising sequence where I have now completed all of the rereads. The last two books, The Grey King and Silver on the Tree, are new to me.

I recall that when I previously read this book, I found it very underwhelming. This is curious to me, because I really liked it this time around. It’s still by no means my favorite – The Dark is Rising continues to enjoy that distinction – but I liked it better than Over Sea, Under Stone. The bringing together of the characters from the first two stories works well, with Merriman Lyon providing the bridge between the stories. In addition to the Light and the Dark, Cooper brings the Wild Magic into her story, and it is all the better for it.

I put this entire series on my TBR cart for 2022 because they’ve been hanging around forever, and I really wanted to read to the end. I’m ready to move into the part of the story that is new to me. It’s definitely a keeper series, though, so once it comes off the TBR cart, it definitely stays on the bookshelves. I never read it aloud to my children when they were young – and that opportunity is long since missed – but maybe my hoped for grandchildren provide an opportunity.

2022: Books 7, 10 & 11 – Unexpected Night, The Dark Is Rising & The Wee Free Men

This is just going to be a quick multi-book catch-up post! I didn’t have enough to say about these books to warrant a full review, but I don’t want to forget about them, either.

Unexpected NightUnexpected Night
by Elizabeth Daly
Rating: ★★★★
Series: Henry Gamadge #1
Publication Date: January 1, 1940
Genre: mystery
Pages: 216
ReRead?: No
Project: American mystery classics

The discovery of young Amberly Cowden's body at the base of a cliff, as well as the strange events apparently related to the impoverished acting troupe at the Cove, disrupt Gamage's restful golf retreat.

This is the first book in the Henry Gamadge series by Elizabeth Daly. I stumbled on the series last year and enjoyed the one I checked out. I put the first book on held. This is a pretty clever little mystery from the golden age, by an American author.

The Dark Is RisingThe Dark Is Rising
by Susan Cooper
Rating: ★★★★★
Series: The Dark is Rising #2
Publication Date: January 1, 1973
Genre: fantasy, YA
Pages: 244
ReRead?: Yes
Project: Mt. TBR 2022

On Midwinter Day and his eleventh birthday, Will Stanton discovers he is the last of immortal Old Ones dedicated to keeping the world from domination by the forces of evil, the Dark. He must find six magical Signs for the final battle.

I pulled this off the TBR cart to follow Over Sea, Under Stone, which I read earlier this month. I plan to complete the series this year – I have previously read the first three, and this is my favorite of them. I really like this book, and had forgotten that it was set over Christmas/Epiphany, so it was really perfect for this time of year.

The Wee Free MenThe Wee Free Men
by Terry Pratchett
Rating: ★★★½
Series: Discworld #30
Publication Date: October 6, 2009
Genre: fantasy, YA
Pages: 404
ReRead?: No

Nine-year-old Tiffany Aching needs magic--fast! Her sticky little brother Wentworth has been spirited away by the evil Queen of Faerie, and it's up to her to get him back safely. Having already decided to grow up to be a witch, now all Tiffany has to do is find her power. But she quickly learns that it's not all black cats and broomsticks. According to her witchy mentor Miss Tick, "Witches don't use magic unless they really have to...We do other things. A witch pays attention to everything that's going on...A witch uses her head...A witch always has a piece of string!" Luckily, besides her trusty string, Tiffany's also got the Nac Mac Feegles, or the Wee Free Men on her side. Small, blue, and heavily tattooed, the Feegles love nothing more than a good fight except maybe a drop of strong drink! Tiffany, heavily armed with an iron skillet, the feisty Feegles, and a talking toad on loan from Miss Tick, is a formidable adversary. But the Queen has a few tricks of her own, most of them deadly. Tiffany and the Feegles might get more than they bargained for on the flip side of Faerie! Prolific fantasy author Terry Pratchett has served up another delicious helping of his famed Discworld fare.

I initially gave this four stars, but on reflection, it’s probably 3 1/2. I know that there are a lot of Terry Pratchett super-fans out there, but I am apparently not one of them. I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. While I very much enjoyed Tiffany Aching and thought that the pictsies were a hoot, the last section of the book, set in Fairyland, just didn’t click with me at all. I didn’t get it. I own the whole Tiffany Aching subseries, and I’ll probably read it, but I have come to the conclusion that a lot of the signature Pratchett elements just don’t work for me.

Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper

Over Sea, Under StoneOver Sea, Under Stone
by Susan Cooper
Rating: ★★★★
Series: The Dark is Rising #1
Publication Date: November 1, 1965
Genre: fantasy, YA
Pages: 286
ReRead?: Yes
Project: a century of women, Mt. TBR 2022

On holiday in Cornwall, the three Drew children discover an ancient map in the attic of the house that they are staying in. They know immediately that it is special. It is even more than that -- the key to finding a grail, a source of power to fight the forces of evil known as the Dark. And in searching for it themselves, the Drews put their very lives in peril.

This is the first volume of Susan Cooper's brilliant and absorbing fantasy sequence known as The Dark Is Rising.


I pulled this off of the TBR cart as my first book of 2022. I have paperback copies of the whole series, and plan to read the whole cycle this year.

This is somewhere between Middle Grade & Young Adult – more MG than YA, I would say. Cooper wrote the series between 1965 and 1977, so this book is just slightly older than I am (I was born in 1966). I didn’t read it as a young reader, though, somehow, although I think it would have been right up my alley.

I am a fan of books that have Arthurian themes, and Susan Cooper is definitely in that wheelhouse, with this book as a quest for the holy grail. It’s a pretty classic British adventure story, with a trio of siblings blessed with busy, benignly neglectful parents and an acquaintanceship with a mentor who is more than he seems to be.

The second book, The Dark is Rising, was a Newbery nominee, and the fourth book, The Grey King, won the Newbery in 1976. I read the first three back in 2016, but never completed the series, and decided to start at the beginning this year.