Marshmallow reviews The Grey King by Susan Cooper

Marshmallow has already reviewed Over Sea, Under StoneThe Dark is Rising, and Greenwitch by Susan Cooper. Today she reviews the fourth book in The Dark is Rising series: The Grey King.

Marshmallow reviews The Grey King by Susan Cooper
Marshmallow reviews The Grey King by Susan Cooper

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you enjoyed reading the previous books in The Dark Is Rising series, then this might be the book for you.

There is a Welsh legend about a harp of gold, hidden within a certain hill, that will be found by a boy and a white dog with silver eyes–a dog that can see the wind. Will Stanton knows nothing of this when he comes to Wales to recover from a severe illness.

from the back cover of The Grey King by Susan Cooper

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Will Stanton, an Old One, has lost his memory. He is sent to Wales, to live with his mother’s cousin for a little bit, because he is supposed to be healed by the sea air. When he gets to Wales, he meets a lot of people. One of the people he meets is not a nice person. Caradog Prichard is a cruel man who dislikes everyone. But on the brighter side, Will also meets Bran. Bran is very pale as he is an albino. His skin and hair are white, but his eyes are gold. Caradog Prichard is blaming Bran’s dog, Cafall, constantly, because Caradog Prichard thinks that Cafall is killing his sheep. When Will meets Bran and starts to talk to him, Will starts to get his memory back. He remembers that he is an Old One, and he remembers his previous quests. And he realizes that Bran is “the raven boy” from this prophecy:

“On the day of the dead, when the year too dies, 
Must the youngest open the oldest hills 
Through the door of the birds, where the wind breaks.  
There fire shall fly from the raven boy, 
And the silver eyes that see the wind, 
And the Light shall have the harp of gold.”

The prophecy continues, but I won’t write all of it. But even when Will recognizes Bran in the prophecy, there is more about Bran than what he can know: Bran’s past is not what it seems. As Will discovers more about Bran, he uncovers a shocking truth. Do Bran’s roots come from the Light or from the Dark?

Marshmallow is reading The Grey King by Susan Cooper
Marshmallow is reading The Grey King by Susan Cooper

Marshmallow’s Review: I think that this was a very interesting book because the plot is very surprising. I wasn’t able to guess Bran’s background; it was so surprising.

I think that this would be a good book for 8 and up. This is not because it is scary, but because the plot might confuse younger readers.

I think that if you want to read this book alone, that’s fine, but I would suggest reading the previous books too. Also you might want to know a little bit about King Arthur, just a vague idea of his life. I should add that Sprinkles says The Grey King is her favorite from this series so far.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates The Grey King by Susan Cooper 95%.
Marshmallow rates The Grey King by Susan Cooper 95%.

Marshmallow reviews Greenwitch by Susan Cooper

Marshmallow has already reviewed Over Sea, Under Stone and The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. Today she reviews Greenwitch, Susan Cooper’s next book in The Dark Is Rising series. At 158 pages, this book from 1974 is the shortest of this five-book series.

Marshmallow reviews Greenwitch by Susan Cooper.
Marshmallow reviews Greenwitch by Susan Cooper.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you enjoyed  Over Sea, Under Stone and The Dark is Rising, the first two books of the The Dark Is Rising series, or you like books about good fighting against evil, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Will Stanton, an Old One we have met in The Dark is Rising, is being introduced to the three Drew children, Jane, Barney, and Simon, from Over Sea, Under Stone. Barney and Simon think quite lowly of Will, because they don’t know that Will is there to help them fight against the Dark, and they also don’t know that Will is an Old One.

The four children are all together to find a priceless golden grail stolen from a museum. The three Drew children had found the grail in Over Sea, Under Stone, and then they had given it to a museum, but now the grail has been stolen by the Dark.

The Drew children’s adventure from the first book is part of the reason why they think lowly of Will. They think that since he wasn’t there, he will be a drag. They are once again in Trewissick, the same fishing village as they had been in that first book. (Trewissick is supposed to be in Cornwall but it is fictional; the author made it up.)

In Trewissick there is a ritual that the women take part in every year that is supposed to bring the village fishermen good luck. The women make a figure of the Greenwitch, an enormous figure made out of leaves and branches. Only women can help make the figure, but then men take over from them and throw it in the sea. Thus, among the four children, only Jane can watch the ritual construction of the Greenwitch. At the ritual, she learns that there is a belief among the people of Trewissick that you get to make a wish if you touch the Greenwitch figure. Jane selflessly wishes that the Greenwitch could be happy.

The next night, Jane has a dream in which the Greenwitch tells her that she has a secret. Jane learns also that the Dark wants the Greenwitch’s secret. But the Greenwitch is neutral, she does not have an alliance with the Light or the Dark, and so they need to convince the Greenwitch to give them her secret, before it’s too late. 

Marshmallow is reading Greenwitch by Susan Cooper.

Marshmallow’s Review: Greenwitch is a great book. I like that in this book Jane is kind of more important than in the first book, the first time we see her. I thought that the author did a good job with the plot and she certainly ends the book in a way that makes you want to read the next book.

Though this time Jane got a bigger role, it was still kind of frustrating for me that Barney and Simon were being dismissive of Will throughout most of the book. Sprinkles says that a good author will make you feel strong emotions. 

The book was kind of dreamlike and sometimes a little confusing for me. Reading the parts about the construction of the Greenwitch, I found it difficult to imagine what she looked like, and then later when she showed up in Jane’s dream, I was not sure what to think of. But otherwise, I enjoyed reading Greenwitch and I’m looking forward to reading the next book.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates Greenwitch by Susan Cooper 95%.
Marshmallow rates Greenwitch by Susan Cooper 95%.

Marshmallow reviews The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper

A few weeks ago Marshmallow reviewed Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper. Today she is talking with Sprinkles about The Dark Is Rising, Susan Cooper’s next book in The Dark Is Rising series, the book that gave the series its name.

Marshmallow reviews The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper.
Marshmallow reviews The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper.

Sprinkles: Marshmallow let us start with you telling us what this book is about.

Marshmallow: This book is about a boy named Will. On his eleventh birthday, he discovers that he is one of the Old Ones. That means he has some special kind of magic powers.

S: Hmm, that reminds me of another eleven-year old boy who discovers he has magic powers…

M: Yes, Harry Potter also learns about his magic powers when he turns eleven.

S: Why do you think these two authors took this age to be the time for these boys to discover their hidden powers?

M: Probably because that is the average age of the readers they are targeting.

S: That is a very good reason Marshmallow. Can you think of any others?

M: I guess that is when children go to a new school, like finishing primary school?

S: I think that might be related. Eleven is also the age when many children start going through puberty. So it is naturally a time of change and discovery.

M: I guess that makes sense.

S: So now tell me what these Old Ones are about.

M: They are godlike, powerful beings, with magical powers. I think they might be immortal. They are on the side of the Light, which is always fighting the Dark.

S: Hmm, tell me more. What is the Light? Is the Dark the dark that is rising in the title of the book?

M: The Light stands for good and the Dark is evil.

S: So if the Light is represented or protected by immortal beings, are the protectors and defenders of the Dark also immortal?

M: Not sure. I think so. The Dark seems to find helpers at any era though, and the story of the book is about the twentieth century when a new battle is being fought.

S: Is this related to any of the wars of the twentieth century?

M: I think they might be related, but the fight between the Light and the Dark Will is pulled into involves him finding the Six Signs.

S: Hmm, what are the Six Signs?

M: They are six symbols made of wood, bronze, iron, water, fire, and stone. The fire and water ones are not really made of fire or water of course. But they represent them.

S: So Will is supposed to find these objects to help the Light, right?

M: Yes.

Marshmallow is reading The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper.
Marshmallow is reading The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper.

S: So this book is supposed to be in a five-book series that started with Over Sea, Under Stone. How are the two books related? Will was not in that first book, nor have we heard about the signs in that one.

M: True. Will was not in that book. And this book seems pretty unrelated to that book. But there is a character in this one that we know from the first book: Merriman Lyon in this book is Uncle Merry from the first book. And the events of the first book are mentioned in passing in this one.

S: That is interesting. And it seems from the description of the third book in the series that Barney, Simon and Jane, the three children from that first book, will meet Will eventually.

M: Oh, that’s intriguing!

S: We are going to have to read that third book soon then, I suppose.

M: Yes, I guess so.

S: Then did you enjoy reading this one?

M: Yes, I liked it! I rate it 1o0%.

S: Cool! Let us wrap up this review then. You always want to end our chats the way Caramel ends his reviews. Right? So go ahead!

M: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Marshmallow rates The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper 100%.
Marshmallow rates The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper 100%.

Marshmallow reviews Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper

Marshmallow recently read Over Sea, Under Stone written by Susan Cooper and first published in 1965. Today she is discussing it with Sprinkles.

Marshmallow reviews Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper.
Marshmallow reviews Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow, why don’t you start with a brief summary of what this book is about?

Marshmallow: Sure. Over Sea, Under Stone is about three kids, Barney, Simon and Jane. They are on vacation with their parents in Cornwall and are staying in an old house they rented together with an old family friend Great-Uncle Merry. Then they discover a mysterious map in a small room behind a wardrobe.

S: Oh, so like the kids in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the first book written in the Chronicles of Narnia series, who find a new world within a wardrobe?

M: It is similar, but not quite the same. They do not go and find a new world inside the wardrobe. They find a map which allows them to see their own world through a new perspective.

S: How so?

M: When they show Great-Uncle Merry the map, he tells them of an ongoing war between good and evil, and that the warriors on both sides still are fighting it to this day.

S: Yes, this is a good summary I think. But this good versus evil fight is not as tied in with Christianity as it was in Narnia. Here, the good side is tied back to the King Arthur legends instead. It seems more directly connected to English lore. But the way you talked about the main characters, I also thought of a few other books you have reviewed for this blog. For example you reviewed Five Children and It by E. Nesbit and there too there were a few siblings that find something interesting during a family vacation. You also reviewed  Half Magic by Edward Eager which is similar.

M: Yes! And Half Magic by Edward Eager also involved the King Arthur legends in some ways.

S: So it seems like there is this genre of siblings, a handful of ordinary kids finding something extraordinary and then their lives change. Would you like that to happen to you and Caramel?

M: No!

S: Why not?

M: Possibly because they almost always get into real big trouble. Almost always there is a real big danger. And that’s not very appealing to me.

S: I see. But you seem to like reading about these kinds of things happening to other little bunnies. I guess you enjoy living vicariously through these characters’ adventures!

M: Yes! I will agree to that.

Marshmallow is reading Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper.
Marshmallow is reading Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper.

S: Apparently Susan Cooper, the author, wrote four more books about the same conflict between good and evil after this one, starting about ten years after having published this book. Together the five books make up the Dark is Rising sequence. Are you curious about those books?

M: Well, I am curious about what Cooper does with the world, but honestly I am not always too keen to read about female characters written in the time these books were written. They are almost always too stereotypical. I was disappointed with the female characters in Narnia, and here, too, I was disappointed that Jane always worried about cleanliness and her brothers always picked on her for being a girl.

S: I know what you mean. But I thought Jane was not too terrible. She did sense something was wrong with the Withers from the start. And the boys did eventually treat her a bit better. So maybe the other books will be a bit better?

M: I did read an excerpt of the second book at the end of this book and it seemed like there are a whole lot of new characters in there.

S: Yes, I think that is the case. I also heard that many people like that second book a lot. So we might just have to read it to see for ourselves, don’t you think?

M: Yes.

S: So let us wrap this up then. How would you rate this book?

M: Let me see. There was not much humor and the kids were a little too serious for me, I could not relate to any of them, but the story was quite intriguing and kept me wondering till the end.

S: Yes, it was quite stressful for me at times. I did think the author kept up the suspense well till the end.

M: I was not stressed myself but the story did work well. So I rate the book 95% and recommend it to other bunnies. Stay tuned for more book bunnies reviews!

Marshmallow rates Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper 95%.
Marshmallow rates Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper 95%.