Greenwitch: Jane’s story

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review Greenwitch Susan Cooper The Dark is RisingGreenwitch by Susan Cooper

Greenwitch is the third book in The Dark is Rising series, and it is necessary to be familiar with the first two books Over Sea, Under Stone and The Dark is Rising to fully understand what is going on in this volume. In the first book siblings Simon, Jane, and Barney uncovered the grail from its hiding place, but unfortunately lost the lead-incased manuscript that would decipher the inscription on the grail’s side. Now after the grail has been stolen from the museum, their great-uncle Merry brings them once more to Trewissick in order to find what they once lost.

Meeting them for the first time is Will Stanton, the youngest of the Old Ones, the beings of the Light that guard mankind against the Dark. He came into his own in The Dark is Rising, finding the Six Signs, and now is joining the Drew children to search for the grail. An ancient soul in the body of a small boy, the Drews are initially none to pleased to find competition for their uncle’s time and energy, but the search for the grail and the manuscript soon puts this out of their mind.

Jane attends a women-only all-night festival that involves the making of something called “the Greenwitch”, made of rock and branches. Tentatively she makes a wish for the vastly powerful and lonely being — a wish that could do what neither the Light nor the Dark can accomplish. But with the presence of a malevolent painter that has Barney in his power, the anger of the Greenwitch and the return of a ghostly traitor from Trewissick’s past, it is a challenge to reach the finish line and the next step in the ongoing quest.The Dark Is Rising Book Series (5 Books)

Greenwitch is the shortest book in the series, and most swift readers will probably finish it in one sitting (or at least one day), and although it is a carefully crafted read, it could have used a bit of padding, especially in the relationship between Will and the Drew children. It is prickly at first, and then mellows out at the end, but does not really record the transition between these two states. However, as always the story is packed with original ideas and her language is beautiful, especially the nightmare sequence when the Wild Magic of the Greenwitch is unleashed on the town.

An essential part of the collection, Greenwitch is a great inclusion, wrapping up plot points from the previous two books and setting the stage for the next two. In many ways, this is Jane’s story, making the book unique considering she is the only female of note in the entire series — though she’s hardly a strong, independent female of the 21st century, her simple wish is really quite touching and harks back to the days when females didn’t have to swing a sword or do kick-boxing in order to make a real difference.

Published in 1974. Simon, Jane, and Barney, enlisted by their mysterious great-uncle, arrive in a small coastal town to recover a priceless golden grail stolen by the forces of evil — Dark. They are not at first aware of the strange powers of another boy brought to help, Will Stanton — nor of the sinister significance of the Greenwitch, an image of leaves and branches that for centuries has been cast into the sea for good luck in fishing and harvest. Their search for the grail sets into motion a series of distubing, sometimes dangerous events that, at their climax, bring forth a gift that, for a time at least, will keep the Dark from rising.

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REBECCA FISHER, with us since January 2008, earned a Masters degree in literature at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Her thesis included a comparison of how C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman each use the idea of mankind’s Fall from Grace to structure the worldviews presented in their fantasy series. Rebecca is a firm believer that fantasy books written for children can be just as meaningful, well-written and enjoyable as those for adults, and in some cases, even more so. Rebecca lives in New Zealand. She is the winner of the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best SFF Fan Writer.

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