Friday, January 09, 2009

Greenwitch by Susan Cooper

Greenwitch, the third in Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising sequence, is just a little book. I don't know how many pages the paper version runs to, but as an audiobook it was only four and a half hours long. I actually started it last year, but stalled when Christmas got in the way, so I started it again earlier this week (mostly so I could include it in my 2009 challenges I admit). I finished it in a few days, something that is most unusual for me with an audiobook.

Greenwitch begins with the theft of the grail the Drew children found in Over Sea, Under Stone. Merriman quickly recruits them to try to recover it and they return to Trewissick, soon finding themselves joined by Will Stanton and Captain Toms, the owner of the Grey House where they stayed the summer before. This is really Jane's story, with her brothers and Will as the supporting cast, further supported by Merriman and Captain Toms.

She is invited to witness the making of the Greenwitch, a massive creation of wood and stones that the women of the village make through the night once a year. At daybreak, the Greenwitch is tipped over the cliff into the sea. Jane is told that she is welcome to make a wish on the Greenwitch, like the other women of Trewissick. Impulsively, instead of wishing something for herself, Jane wishes for the Greenwitch to be happy, a wish that will have major consequences.

Meanwhile, Simon and Barney have an encounter with an agent of the Dark, who has the grail and is trying to recover the manuscript that came with it and ended up at the bottom of the sea at the end of Over Sea, Under Stone. But it is the Greenwich who has claimed the cannister holding the manuscript and who recovers it will be a major factor in the current balance between the Light and the Dark.

This is Jane's story and she shines here. She is the quieter, more thoughtful one compared to her brothers, but in this case those are the attributes that are needed to reach the Greenwitch and persuade it to give up its "secret". The end scene, with Will, on the rocks, is lovely and it is only the thoughtful girl and the Old One in the guise of a boy that would think to give the Greenwitch a new treasure to protect. It would never occur to Simon or Barney, and that most likely is why this is not "their" book. They took centre stage in Over Sea, Under Stone and now it is Jane's turn.

Alex Jennings is an excellent narrator and it was a pleasure to listen to him reader Susan Cooper's lyrical prose. She can shift easily between lively interaction between the characters and evocative descriptions of the location or magical events. The Wild Magic is prevalent again in this book and it is beautifully described and beautifully narrated.

I'm thoroughly enjoying my reread of this series and I look forward to The Grey King, although I'm going to be listening to Magician's Gambit next. I figure that alternating between the lyrical and thoughtful Dark is Rising books and the light and fun Belgariad books should be a nice balance.

Susan Cooper
The Dark is Rising, Book 3

Qualifies for: 100+ Reading Challenge


Anonymous said...

I absolutely loved this series as a kid, and I've gone back and re-read it a couple of times as an adult too, although not recently. I remember generally liking the Will-centric books better than the ones that focus on the Drew-kids, but from memory, Greenwitch was the first time Cooper *started* to bring the characters together.

I have the entire series in a single volume on my bookshelves... at some point, once my reading pile is down to a more reasonable level, it would be cool to re-read them and see what new things I get out of them, compared to the last time I read them

Anonymous said...

WOW! Another excellent review!

Leigh said...

I'm hoping on reading this series this year. (Technically it's re-reading but I don't remember anything of them). Especially since I borrowed a workmates copy of the movie "Seeker". I was very dissapointed when watching the deleted scenes with the Directors commentry to discover they removed one theme of the story so as to simplify the story. It wasn't that complicated of a theme - that doing wrong for the right reasons does not make it any less wrong. I can think of many real life parallels where this is true but inconvenient. Also, there is always so much more in the books.

Nymeth said...

I read this just a couple of weeks ago and I loved it too. Jane really does shine.