05 July 2014

Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper

The first book in Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series, Over Sea, Under Stone is a tale I've been meaning to read for years. I actually first purchased this book about 5+ years ago for one of Dewey's Readathons, but I ended up reading the first three books in Cirque du Freak instead (a series I never finished by the way).

In the story, Simon, Jane, and Barney Drew are on holiday (damn my American sensibilities love that phrase) in Trewissick visiting their great-uncle Merry, whom they affectionately call Gumerry. When they discover an old manuscript detailing a map, the three children set out on an adventure to discover a true buried treasure which relates to King Arthur.

One of the reasons I hate summarizing stories is my inability to truly capture what the story is about in my overly simplistic synopsis. At the same time, I can't make it any better without adding detail which I am loathe to do as I am one of those strange readers who prefers to know as little as humanly possible before picking up a book. I enjoy the discovery of reading, and I don't want to ruin it for anyone else. Even giving away something that happens on page 5 makes me uncomfortable. That being said, read ahead at your own super-minor-but-still-there plot spoilers.

The plot of this one is simple enough, and adults who read it won't find too many surprises here, which I found oddly comforting and simultaneously eye-rolling-inducing this time around. I needed the easy read as I've been in quite the reading slump this month. At the same time, I crave a bit more in my stories - more backstory, more mythology, more action, etc. And definitely more of the paranormal.

The lack of supernatural elements in this tale surprised me; I was under the assumption this series revolved around the otherworldly. Perhaps more is coming in the series as this first book definitely heavily hinted at agelessness and magical powers. But it only hinted. For the most part, this is a simple quest with a few bad guys, but no stress on any real power behind either party.

So far it may seem like I didn't enjoy the story, but I did. I plowed through it, easily reading despite exhaustion (due to long days playing and swimming and swinging and sliding with the nutter). I am excited to start the next installment in the series.

Have any of you read this series?


  1. Personally I don't see how anyone can summarize fantasy books in under 3 gazillion words! I think it's just as good info to say whether it was good or bad or stupid or not! :--)

  2. I just ordered The Dark is Rising on audio from my library. I've decided it's time to update my woefully pitiful knowledge about classic sci-fi and fantasy, so there's a bunch coming to me. Dune. the first Tolkien book. Ender's Game (despite my hatred of Card). the first in the Jim Butcher series. The PHantom Tollbooth. All these things I never read growing up because no one knew to expose me to scifi fantasy.

  3. The series definitely gets more magical and otherworldly. These kids are the "normals" in a weird situation but then the series focuses on another boy, Will, who is definitely not a normal kid. I really loved him and his story. Then their stories intersect and it gets crazy. And I'm just like you, wanting to know as little as possible so I won't say anything else! ;) Just trust that this series is well worth continuing.

  4. I've wanted to read this series, for years, with my kids but I've never gotten around to it.

  5. I have this series in my audiobook queue! I have not prioritized it because I have a vague idea of it having a strong basis in Christian religion, which doesn't really appeal to me in my fantasy novels. Did you get this feeling in reading this book at all? Maybe I am making that up...

  6. I just read this series recently and like Kristen said, it definitely adds the supernatural elements in with the second book. One thing to keep in mind (I wish someone had told me this) the second book doesn't have the same kids in it AT ALL. It focuses on Will, a new character, which is great, but I kept waiting for the other siblings to show up. In the third book it all comes together. Enjoy the series!

  7. I haven't read this one but I've own The Dark is Rising for years now. Since you enjoyed this one, I may give it a shot.


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