Newbery Verdict: The Dark is Rising

The Dark is Rising // by Susan Cooper (1973)

dark-is-risingNewbery Honor Book (1974)
Genre: MG, Low Fantasy
Rating: 5 Stars

Basic Plot: Will Stanton turns eleven, only to discover that he’s one of the Old Ones. As the sign-seeker, he must set out on a quest to bring together six great signs of the Light in order to keep the Dark from rising. Things get complicated and Will doesn’t always know who to trust.


I read this book back when I was a kid. I remember liking it, but I actually don’t recall anything about the book… other than the Dark was rising (ahem). So, re-reading this book was like reading it for the first time. And I must say, I really enjoyed it. This book takes place over Christmas, and it involves a lot of snow. Which makes it a very cold read! But that just added to the suspense.

I particularly loved Will and Merriman. And I liked the twist with the Walker near the end. I found it very interesting that the book pretty much takes place in and around Will’s house, with the odd little time-travel sequence. His quest takes place in our world! Basically, it’s up to Will (the last of the Old Ones) to find the six Signs that will keep the Dark from rising.

I did expect more to come of the mask that brother Stephen sent Will. (But maybe the mask becomes important in a later book? See, I remember nothing about this series!)


This book definitely deserved its Newbery Honor award. It’s well-written and has a host of engaging characters. (Note: The Newbery winner that year was Slave Dancer by Paula Fox; which I haven’t read, so I can’t really say which was better.)


Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

Newbery Verdict Reading Challenge: This is a personal challenge for me to read books that have either won the Newbery Medal, or are a Newbery Honor book. The Newbery is named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. Since 1922, this annual award has given to the author of the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” A Newbery Honor book is given to the runners-up.

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

17 thoughts on “Newbery Verdict: The Dark is Rising

    • And there’s more in the series. Apparently, this is the second book. (I never knew that, and I just realized it after reading it. I am now going to back to read the “first” one. Note: The first one is more of a companion book, so it’s not like anything was spoiled when I read this one.)


  1. Interesting that this book was written in 1974 and is still relevant today — particularly since it won a Newbery Honor. I haven’t read the novel, but it does sound very engaging with its interesting quest to seek the signs of light. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My kids and I read this entire series out loud together when they were young. The others are much more fantasy oriented while this one sets everything up. We loved them all but this one holds a special place for me. I loved the Cornwall coast!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I seem to recall from when I originally picked upt the books that the series was more fantasy-oriented. So, for this re-read, I was surprised at the fact that this one is set so much in our world.

      I also thought it was the first in the series, but there’s apparently one that comes before it… one that I have never read! So, that’s next on my list: Over Sea, Under Stone.

      Liked by 1 person

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