O is for Over Sea Under Stone

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Over Sea Under Stone is the first book in The Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper. I was given this book for Christmas by my sister when I was about 13 and I still have that original copy. It is a set of books that I love and have read many times over the years. One of things I like about it are the line drawings that evoke the unearthly feel of the novel.

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The story is effectively a mystery in which three children, Simon, Jane and Barney search for an ancient artefact, a remnant of Arthurian England. In doing so they become caught up in the eternal struggle between the Light and the Dark, a theme which continues through the remaining four books of the series.

Over Sea Under Stone is set in Cornwall, the south-eastern tip of England that reaches out into the Atlantic. It’s a wild and beautiful place where the ancient Celtic culture somehow feels close and Arthurian legend abounds. I remember sitting right at the top of Tintagel Castle telling my children the story of the birth of Arthur as the waves crashed on the rocks below.

Susan Cooper had her book rejected by twenty publishers before someone picked it up, which seems amazing yet how often do we hear this sort of thing? It can make you wonder how many good books never get published.

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