Sunday, June 30, 2013

Book Review: Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper.

Publisher:  The Folio Society
ISBN:  not available for this edition
Format:  Quarter-bound in buckram with Modigliani paper sides, 9" × 6¼"
Illustrated by Laura Carlin (7 illustrations)

Like my earlier review of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief I first came across the Dark Is Rising sequence as the result of seeing a film.  Fellow book club members recommended the books, and the sequence was added to our suggestions list.  There are five books in the sequence, of which this is the first.  I would definitely read them in order, now that I am half way through book three I can see how important it is to have read them in sequence.

As I have mentioned on the blog before I joined the Folio Society recently, and I chose the first four books in the sequence as my obligatory four book purchase this year.  I just have to get the fifth book now, before they run out of stock!!  When I saw them on the FS list I thought if the FS thinks they're good enough to publish then I should definitely give them a try.  I could wax lyrical about the wonderful special editions the FS have produced, but any edition will do.

Short Synopsis:  A young family are travelling for a family holiday to Cornwall, land of Arthurian legend.  They're on their way to meet their strange Uncle Gumery, and little do they know it but their also about to take part in the eternal battle between the forces of light (good) and dark (evil).

The style of language used is very of it's time (written in the 60's), something Susan Cooper mentions herself in the preface to the special edition.  A few too many 'Gosh's' for a modern audience, but though I have found this a distraction in other books, here it just feels utterly charming.  The thing that makes this truly an outstanding story for me is the way that Cooper is able to make the story seem so real.  The characters of Simon, Jane and Barney are so well drawn that the whole book feels incredibly believable.  In the very best tradition of the very best books you really do lose the words on the page as your imagination takes over and paints the story in images for you.  You lose yourself and become Simon or Jane or Barney.  That's me, a nearly 40 year old woman feeling like a young boy running for my life across the hills of Cornwall.  I swear my heart was racing.  When the children are in danger you really feel it yourself.

What I liked most: Everything!  But mostly that I haven't been this engrossed in a book in possibly ever!

What I liked least:  Nothing.  Really.  I loved the whole thing.  This is probably in my top three books.  The only reason it might not make the top spot is because it didn't make me cry.


  1. I'm so glad you liked it! As you know this series is the one that really got me into reading. As for not making you cry.... wait until you get to the last book...

  2. I've just finished the Greenwitch. The Grey King next... I don't have the last book yet, I need to buy it, so will have to pace myself until I can afford it. These Folio editions are somewhat pricey.