- By Susan Cooper
- Publisher: Simon Pulse
- ISBN #0020427859
- Price $4.99
- Purchase this book here.
I got this book for Christmas sometime in the mid 80’s, and I probably read it 3 times between then and college. After college I read it much more, and I’ll mention why lower down.
The story is of three children who travel with their parents to stay in a large house in a small town by the sea in Cornwall. They’ve been invited by their Great-Uncle Merry, who isn’t an uncle at all, but rather an old family friend.
The children find a very very old map in the house, one that details the location of a grail. Not The Holy Grail mind you, but a grail that has written on the side of it the true story of Arthur and Mark. The map doesn’t come right out and say where the grail is, there are vague clues that the children must figure out.
Through that figuring out process they come to realize there are Bad People who wish to find the grail themselves. They also come to realize that Great-Uncle Merry is one of the Good People, and he alerts them to the fact that there is far more at stake than simply finding an historical artifact. They’re in a battle in an ongoing war against Good and Evil.
I’ll make no bones about the fact that the book is slightly juvinile. It was written in 1965, for junior high and high school age people. But it has a delicious British flavour, and lots of interesting little bits about English history and life in Cornwall. It’s a really fun, quick read.
I started reading it again in college because all those years later I learned that it’s the first in a series, called The Dark Is Rising Sequence. Books 2-4 are far more mature, and a good bit darker. They delve into the ancient history of the Thames Valley, and use the old mythology of the British Isles greatly. Book 3 is set in Wales, and taught me enough about the welsh language to be able to read any map and not sound like a total idiot.
So while I think OSUS might be a little young for most of you, I highly suggest reading the series, and in that respect it’s indispensable. Book 2 is set around Christmas, and I try to read it around then every year, so I’ll review it then.