Review: Over Sea, Under Stone

Image from Powells

Title: Over Sea, Under Stone

Series: The Dark Is Rising Sequence #1

Author: Susan Cooper

Genre: Fantasy

Back Cover:

While on holiday in Cornwall, Jane, Simon, and Barney Drew discover an ancient map. The map is the key to finding a grail, a source of power to fight the Dark, a force of great evil. And in searching for it, they put their very lives in danger…


I picked up this book for two reasons. One was I bought a copy of Susan Cooper’s Green Boy at a used bookstore, and the woman who rang up my order recommended her The Dark is Rising books. The other was that I vaguely remember watching movie called “The Dark is Rising” years ago and liking it.

Even if this series is what the movie was based on (which I doubt, because the movie main character’s name was Will), I didn’t like it nearly as much as the movie.

I tried to give it the fifty-page rule (it was too short for the hundred-page rule) but I only got to page forty. What plot I got through wasn’t bad. The characters weren’t the best I’d ever read, but they weren’t horrible, either. What really turned me off was the writing style.

The book is set in England (Susan Cooper was born there), and it was written with a lot of British words. But that wasn’t what bothered me. What made me stop reading was all the extra words.

Susan Cooper wrote this book like I wrote essays for government class – with as many extra words as possible. By page forty, when I stopped reading, the three kids had found a map. That’s it. The font was tiny, and the lines close together, and it still took forty pages for the story to start.

I felt like the most likely good story was drowned in an ocean of excess words. I honestly think this book could have benefited greatly from a liberal application of the red pen.

I think Susan Cooper had a good idea here, but it could use some help. I do not intend to read the rest of the series.

The Dark is Rising Sequence:

  1. Over Sea, Under Stone
  2. The Dark is Rising
  3. Greenwitch
  4. The Grey King
  5. Silver On the Tree

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