Marshmallow reviews Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper

This year Marshmallow has reviewed the first four books of Susan Cooper’s classic The Dark Is Rising series. Today she is finally ready to discuss the fifth and last book, Silver on the Tree, for the book bunnies blog. Sprinkles, who has also read the series recently, is taking notes and asking questions.

You can see Marshmallow’s reviews of the first four books here:  Over Sea, Under StoneThe Dark is Rising, Greenwitch, and The Grey King.

Marshmallow reviews Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper.
Marshmallow reviews Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow, tell me about this book.

Marshmallow: Silver on the Tree is the fifth and the last book in the series The Dark Is Rising. The series is about the ultimate battle between the Light and the Dark. The Light represents good and the Dark is evil.

S: So what happens in this fifth book?

M: Bran and Will, two of the characters we met in some of the earlier books, go to a different realm, the Lost Land, to obtain the last magic item the Light needs in its war against the Dark. The magical item is a sword made by the king of the Lost Land, and after some challenges, they manage to get it. Eventually though, the Dark does rise, and things look pretty bad for a while. There is an unexpected villain, someone we trust who turns out to be one of the Dark Lords. Pretty strange turn of events, and kind of confusing at times…

S: I know you had some difficulty following some of the plot at times, and you did not always enjoy the book.

M: Yes, I found it a little difficult sometimes, but overall the plot is actually quite interesting. One of the main issues I had with this book was that the style of writing felt unfamiliar to me.

S: What do you mean? Do you think the language was a bit old fashioned?

M: No, not that, but somehow the story-telling was very fluid, going from one location and time to another, and it was not always clear who was doing what. Some of the plot occasionally went over my head until a bit later, when something else happened and I had to go back to reread.

S: You are a very good and experienced reader, so this is interesting to hear. So I can say for myself that I really enjoyed reading each of the books in this series, but I can also see how sometimes things got a bit confusing. There were spots where the transitions between different times and actors were hinted at and not made very explicit, and the actual extent and implications of the threat of the Dark rising were vague, to say the least.

M: Yes, that is exactly what I think. It was not always clear what the Dark rising actually meant because the Dark was evil, but evil in humans was not always caused by the Dark. But I think it meant that once the Dark rose, there would be no more hope of good. Though they could never destroy the other side, so there would always be the Light, and some chance of good, but if the Dark did rise and win it all, humanity would be lost. They would be all slaves to evil. Which sounds kind of vague, honestly, but definitely also pretty terrifying.

S: But you were not really scared reading the books themselves right?

M: No, that was not what I meant. I was only really a bit scared while reading the first book Over Sea, Under Stone. But the Dark rising is a serious threat, I could get that.

S: I see.

Marshmallow is reading Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper.
Marshmallow is reading Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper.

S: So overall, now that you are done with the whole series, what would you like to say to our readers about it?

M: I would recommend this book to people who like myths, because it blends Welsh mythology with King Arthur stories, and then adds some. There is magic, there is a big scary war between good and evil, and some quite ordinary kids having a role to play.

S: That sounds about right to me. If you could talk to the author, what would you say?

M: Well, I would say that the plots of all the books were very interesting though a bit confusing. I did love how she brought together different mythologies. But I really wished that she would have added some more female characters. The ones in the books were alright, I mean, Jane turned out to be useful in Greenwitch. And the Lady was one of the most powerful among those who fought for the Light, but more women and more girls could have made this story more captivating for me as a female bunny.

S: I cannot disagree with that! And I think you were quite disappointed by what happened to the main characters at the very end.

M: I think that is fair to say.

S: I know. But it also makes sense, no? That humans now have to make their own decisions, they cannot depend on the Light to save them nor can they blame the Dark for things that go wrong?

M: Hmm, I think you are now in spoiler territory!

S: You are right, I’m sorry. Let us stop here then. But in the end, I’d say that these are interesting books and this last one wraps things up in an overall satisfactory way…

M: Sure, I am happy to agree with that.

S: Okay, then how would you like to end the review?

M: I’ll adapt Caramel’s famous closing line to myself and say: “Stay tuned for more amazing reviews from the book bunnies!”

Marshmallow enjoyed reading Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper, and though she found it a bit confusing at times, she is happy to recommend the books in the series to readers who enjoy stories that blend fantasy, magic, and ancient myths.
Marshmallow enjoyed reading Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper, and though she found it a bit confusing at times, she is happy to recommend the books in the series to readers who enjoy stories that blend fantasy, magic, and ancient myths.

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%.