29 October 2012

Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper

Apparently this is a Very Popular Children's Series? I don't know, I missed it somehow. Although I do have a vague memory of someone giving me a copy of The Dark is Rising when I was young and thinking it had a scary title and cover so I never read it. Possibly also because it says "Book 2" on the cover and we all know how I feel about jumping into things in the middle.

The Dark is Rising sequence falls into the category of YA extremely popular in the early-middle 20th century in which a group of children - usually brothers and sisters - goes on a Quest for Whatever Reason. Which can be done very well (I'm looking at you, Pevinsie and Alden children!), but it's tricky. The kids can't be too smart, the parents/guardians can't be too involved [orphans are useful here (looks at Alden children again)], and there should be one or more of the following:

- An Uncle, either big and brash and mysterious or scholarly. Possibly a Great-Uncle; unrelated is acceptable.
- A map or mystery of some sort
- A beautiful girl/woman who turns out to be evil
- An undiscovered country/part of town/etc.

So far, Cooper is 4/4. Also, you know how we (meaning I, of course) about "where are the parents/guardians? Who's watching these kids?!?" Well, props to Cooper again, because someone actually DOES care where the children are and tells them not to do the stupid, reckless things that children in YA novels usually do.

"Today my job is relevant!"
So good on ya, Susan Copoer. Way to keep the adults in the game, but not let them overpower the story. And extra points for the Arthurian business - I dig it.

And now, on to book 2 for The Estella Society's Top 100 Children's Book RAL, which I am joining impossibly late due to my gold-medal performance in the Procrastination Olympics.

7.5 of 11 Mysterious Uncles