Book Review: “Over Sea, Under Stone” by Susan Cooper


Over Sea, Under Stone
by Susan Cooper

The first book in the award-winning The Dark Is Rising quintet happens all upon a summer holiday in the south Cornish seaside village of Trewissick, where the Drew family have rented the imposing old Grey House, along with their mysterious and scholarly Great Uncle Merry. The three Drew children, Simon, Jane, and Barney, find that Merry is the only person they can trust as they get swept into an adventure full of mystery and peril.

It begins when they discover a secret door up to an attic, and an ancient manuscript lying as if carelessly dropped in a corner. The manuscript leads them on a latter-day quest for the Holy Grail, connected with the rising and falling battle between Good and Evil–or the Dark. The possibility of proving the King Arthur legend isn’t their only motivation. They also have to make sure the manuscript, and the grail, don’t fall into the hands of a group of enemies who are determined to use it for some dreadful purpose.

The ages have come round again, it seems, to another time of grave danger and an epochal battle against the rising Dark. And the children must do what they can, while the servants of the Dark run closer and closer at their heels. Some people are not as they seem; there are betrayals and surprises, good and bad, in store for our heroes. In a climactic race against the tide and a heart-pounding confrontation with the horrible Mr. Hastings, the Drew children win a mixed victory–at least, the other side doesn’t win, so that the battle can go on–but even then, tantalizing mysteries remain.

The adventure continues with the second book in the sequence, The Dark Is Rising.