Review of Greenwitch, by Susan Cooper


by Susan Cooper

Collier Books, 1986. First published in 1974. 131 pages.
Starred Review

This book is the third in the Dark Is Rising sequence, which I’m rereading in honor of Susan Cooper winning the 2012 Margaret A. Edwards Award.

I love that in Greenwitch the ordinary children from Over Sea, Under Stone get to come back into the story and have a crucial part. Will, seventh son of the seventh son, who’s discovered he’s immortal, doesn’t seem like he has as much challenge once he got his powers as an Old One.

But the grail that they discovered has been stolen from the museum. And I love that Jane, Simon, and Barney have a part to play in its recovery. They go back to Trewissick, meet a sinister stranger, and Jane gets to witness the making of the Greenwitch — usually only reserved for locals. Jane does a small act of kindness that has big repercussions.

In her Margaret Edwards speech, Susan Cooper talked about a sense of place, and that’s something she does so well here. You feel what it’s like to be kids in Trewissick, surrounded by ancient magic.

Here’s Jane, just arrived and looking out her window:

She was high up on the side of the harbour, overlooking the boats and jetties, the wharf piled with boxes and lobsterpots, and the little canning factory. All the life of the busy harbour was thrumming there below her, and out to the left, beyond the harbour wall and the dark arm of land called Kemare Head, lay the sea. It was a grey sea now, speckled with white. Jane’s gaze moved in again from the flat ocean horizon, and she looked straight across to the sloping road on the opposite side of the harbour, and saw the tall narrow house in which they had stayed the summer before. The Grey House. Everything had begun there.

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