I'm not sure how old I was the day my mother came home from work with a book called The Dark Is Rising Sequence. Her friend, Sue had loaned it to her and soon after she finished, I began reading it too. Up until that time, my reading had been mostly of the Babysitter's Club, Sweet Valley Twins variety. This was the experience, the introduction, to writing that meant something to me.
The time I spent with Will Stanton and the Drews in the proceeding years is immeasurable. I recited the rhymes on poetry day at school and drew the Seven Signs on my book covers. At night, I joined their world by creating stories in my head, wanting so much to join the Old Ones in their quest before I fell asleep. Whether it was my tenth read through or a daydream; I was never very far from this magical world during my formative years.
The Dark Is Rising Sequence taught me that the world isn't simply black and white. Cooper taught me that the shades of grey that exist in this world are more complex than black and white could ever be. Her words helped me expand my horizons and understand that traveling the hard road was often the right choice.
The subtle, yet foreboding magic of Susan Cooper's stories ignited my young imagination in a way that no other book had done before. The pages of her books are not filled with constant explosions and body wracking emotion. They are far more subdued, using elements such as these judiciously, making them effective tools when she chose to unleash them.
Unleash them she did. I was shocked right along with the Drew children when Great-Uncle Merry and Will jumped off Kenmare Head. I felt the ever deepening chill of the creeping snow with Will on that terrifying Christmas Eve. I felt Bran's pain as tragedy struck on Bird Rock.
I still can't bring myself to reread that chapter.
I recently read the Sequence after not visiting it for a decade or more and found that I was just as enchanted with it as I was all those years ago. This in itself, was a surprise. Many things that were once loved fail to stand the test of time, losing their charm as the years passed. Not The Dark Is Rising, though. Not for me. For me, their particular charms remain as rock solid as they did the first time I read them.
If anything, I found her words had become more beautiful with time.
Susan Cooper opened up a new world for me. I have always loved stories and remember laughing at my mother's Big Bad Wolf voice and the tears I shed in my father's arms as we came to the end of The Velveteen Rabbit. But, Cooper made this world come alive for me in a way that I had never experienced before.
She is the reason that I read today. She is the reason I am finishing up my first book. She is the reason I started Devour Lit. I only hope that one day I can say that I've done half as much for someone as Susan Cooper did for me.
Thank you for visiting Devour Lit. I hope you will read along with me.
I'd love to know if there is a book that affected you in a similar way. You can connect with me on Twitter @devourlit and tell me about it.
Click here to find The Dark is Rising Sequence: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781442412538