Children's Books Wiki



The Dark Is Rising is a fantasy novel by Susan Cooper. It is the second book in The Dark Is Rising Sequence, and goes much more in depth about the various fantasy elements than the first book, Over Sea, Under Stone. The book tells the story of Will, an eleven year-old boy, who discovers that he is the last of the Old Ones, a race that are born to fight for the Light against the Dark in the constant battle between the two forces.

In Over Sea, Under Stone the first of the ancient Things of Power was discovered - the grail. In this book the second is discovered, but instead of being a single object, it is six. Six Signs of Power, a cross on a circle, and only Will can get them - and if he doesn't, the world will suffer a terrible fate...


The Walker is abroad
The Rider is Riding
They have woken
The Dark is rising

It's midwinter eve in the countryside, the day before Will's eleventh birthday. But the animals are behaving strangely and there is a pervading sense of fear. The evil magic of the Dark is growing more powerful.

Will is the last of the Old Ones. And he must embark on a quest to save the world from a fate so terrible, it is beyond imagining.

Reader's Reviews


This book is radically different from the first book in the series, Over Sea, Under Stone. The book deals with the constant fight between the Dark and the Light. Will, the main character, discovers that he has magic powers, and that he is an Old One, a race that is born to fight for the Light against the Dark.

I did finish the book; however, I didn't feel comfortable with the fact that the "magic" wasn't from God (or a God-like figure), so I wouldn't recommend this book, or the rest of the series.


Reading this book as an adult, I found it quite disturbing, and I would steer my children away from the whole series. The main character, 11-year old Will, receives a 'gift' of supernatural power, and he is free to use this power as he sees fit. There is no reference to God, and although characters are clearly identified with good or with the Dark, Susan Cooper provides no moral refence point. There is no apparent distinction between the Dark powers and the good powers, except that the characters with 'good' powers choose to use them altruistically. Will doesn't behave like a normal 11-year old boy, somehow he rises to the occasion and sets out to save the world. Of course in real life, 11-year olds (just like the rest of us) are frequently selfish or deceitful, which is precisely why meddling with any supernatural power is so dangerous. This is the classic lie of the occult – that there are 'good' supernatural powers, but the reality is that all occult practises are by evil by definition, since they are secret and do not give honour to God. I suggest you steer your children well away from this series.


This series is one of the best I read as a young teenager, and my amazement with Cooper's raw talent has not faded as I've grown older. When I first picked up these books as a 13 year old on holiday, I gained so much from them, and repeat readings have brought me even more in terms of cultural knowledge, history, and morality over the past 7 years

And as for those who would condemn both the books and the author for being "un-godly" I would suggest they try reading them again, and substituting a few names...You would be surprised at how many biblical tales can be found in between the lines. Personally, I'm not a Christian, but my family is, so I can see from both sides of this debate. I understand that the most common conception of the occult and magic by strict Christian belief is that it is purely satanic and evil, due to it being secret and uncontrolled by any higher power, such as 'God.' However, the magic in this story is defined as having rules, and while power is placed into the hand of an unusual 11 year old boy, who seems to rise to the challenge of saving the world beyond any realistic expectations ( may I say, this is FICTION), he is both taught and restrained by an older male mentor, as well as being in the service of a 'divine' "Lady."

To follow the path of Christian teachings, 'God' gave mankind free will, the ability to choose between good and evil, divinity and damnation, and man kind has struggled with this internal battle since creation. I think that this story is a superb example of this battle, giving much hope to children of the Christian faith, as they are able to see a child, someone they can empathise with, walk the line between good and evil upon being inducted into his birth right of magic, and choose good, despite attempts by the dark to win him over. Sound familiar? May I please say '40 days in the desert?' 'The Temptation of Christ' ring any bells?

Now, I've ranted enough, so I'll say again...fantastic series, one of the best...I'm actually using it as a source for my Dissertation. Susan Cooper, you go girl!


Fantastic series! Really really enjoyable. Believable, interesting characters. Susan Cooper clearly has a thorough working knowledge of British history and mythology. When I read the series aged nine I gained a whole lot of knowledge while reading a fantastic adventure story. It sparked a lasting history in British history. Thoroughly recommended for any child or adult 8+.


This is an extremly boring book. I don't know why people like it.




Boring book that had it's moments. It was extremely hard to follow along unless you read in a couple of sittings. The characters besides Will and Merriman were boring and not special in any way. Over all, the book was exciting at few moments, and very boring overall.

Parental Guidance

  • Reading Age: 12+
  • Reading Aloud Age: 10+

The major theme of the book is the "Light", the good forces, fighting the "Dark", who are the evil forces. However, normal people cannot here, see or know about this constant battle that is going on around them. Will (the main character) is the last of the Old Ones, a group of people who appear to be like people, but have special powers. These people are born to fight for the Light against the Dark, and are also immortal. They can "wish" something into existence, and Will is taught this. They can also move through time. There is an obvious distinction between good and evil, with Will (and the Old One's) actions always being good, and the Dark's always being bad.

There are also a few themes of legend, such as the Dark growing in power up to Twelfth Night. On Twelfth Night the Dark will is at its peak, according to Merriman, Will's Old One friend. The rooks obey the Dark.

There are also several strange characters; first, the Rider, who would appear to be an allegory for the Devil. He is the Dark's most powerful person. Near the end of the book, there is a seemingly neither good nor bad person called Herne the Hunter, who comes out of a tree, and with his hounds chases the Dark away. The Old Ones aid this, but do not actually chase after them.

Surprisingly for a fantasy novel there is no violence in the book at all; the explanation for this is that the Dark cannot actually harm people or Old Ones.

If you like this you might like

  • More books in The Dark Is Rising Sequence. The next book in the series is Greenwitch.

External links