Book Reviews Old School Wednesdays

Old School Wednesdays: Greenwitch (The Dark is Rising Sequence #3) by Susan Cooper

Ana has been reading The Dark Is Rising Sequence for the past few months. Today, she tackles book 3, Greenwitch

Old School Wednesdays is a weekly Book Smugglers feature. We came up with the idea towards the end of 2012, when both Ana and Thea were feeling exhausted from the never-ending inundation of New and Shiny (and often over-hyped) books. What better way to snap out of a reading fugue than to take a mini-vacation into the past?

Old School Wednesdays Final

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Title: Greenwitch

Author: Susan Cooper

Genre: Children, Fantasy

Publisher: Multiple publishers over the years
Publication date: First published in 1974
Paperback: 192 Pages


Simon, Jane, and Barney, enlisted by their mysterious great-uncle, arrive in a small coastal town to recover a priceless golden grail stolen by the forces of evil — Dark. They are not at first aware of the strange powers of another boy brought to help, Will Stanton — nor of the sinister significance of the Greenwitch, an image of leaves and branches that for centuries has been cast into the sea for good luck in fishing and harvest. Their search for the grail sets into motion a series of distubing, sometimes dangerous events that, at their climax, bring forth a gift that, for a time at least, will keep the Dark from rising.

Standalone or series: Third book in The Dark Is Rising sequence

How did I get this book: Bought

Format (e- or p-): Print



It came to pass that I finally read the Over Sea, Under Stone, the first book in the Dark is Rising Sequence a couple of weeks ago and I really liked it. Most of all, I liked the fact that the review generated good discussion from enthusiastic fans of the series. It made me want to continue pronto so we can all talk about it. I reviewed The Dark is Rising a few weeks ago.

Previously on Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising: THE DARK IS RISING (only not just yet). The Drew siblings find the Grail – one of the Objects Of Power – while on holidays in Cornwall but lose the manuscript that could decipher it. THE DARK IS STILL RISING. 11 year-old Will Stanton discovers he is the last Old One and the Sign Seeker. He finds (more like the signs find him) the signs and fights off the Dark Rider. THE DARK IS STILL RISING.

The Directive: The Grail has been STOLEN from under the Light’s nose. I mean, seriously. Don’t you know THE DARK IS RISING? If the Grail is so important, GUARD IT WITH YOUR LIVES. Merriman “Merlin” Lyon enlists the Drew siblings Jane, Simon and Barney once more to help him and the Light recovering The Grail as well as the lost manuscript. For some reason, this recovery plan must be done in Cornwall, where the traditional Greenwitch festival is about to happen.

That FRUSTRATING Thing You Do, Series: The most frustrating thing about this series remains the vague, fuzzy explanations given for things. Take the example below, a conversation between Merriman and the Drews and why they must help the Light:

“I can’t explain, Barney.”

“This matter involves Trewissick, and it does involve that manuscript. But it is part of something very much larger as well, something which I may not explain. I can only ask you trust me, as you trusted me once before, in another part of the long battle between the Light and the Dark. And to help, if you are sure you feel able to give help, without perhaps ever being able fully to understand what you are about.”

That’s kinda the gist of the worldbulding in this series. You must do things because you must do things. They might be dangerous things and you might not even know what or why or when but you still must, because.

Frustrating doesn’t even begin to cover it. It’s the type of shortcut worldbuilding that I feel relies so heavily on our understanding and familiarity with the genre’s tropes. How much this works will depend on each reader – I fear this doesn’t really work for me and might explain my overall tepid feels toward this whole endeavour.

Thumbs Up: The story moves back to the same setting as book 1, Trewissick, the sea town in Cornwall. It provides a great atmosphere for the story when taken together with the small-town feel, the traditions of the place and the description of the scenery.

The Drew siblings are back! Will Stanton is ok but the Drews are more fun – the inner group dynamics between the three is fab and I simply adore Barney and Jane.

Greenwitch is the shorter book so far and I think it worked well: the story is tauter, moves faster and is all the more engaging because of that. It’s probably my favourite book of the series so far.

Thumbs WAY Up: Yay, Ladies!: The Greenwitch and her (its?) connection with Jane who ends up being the pivotal character in the series exactly because of who she is: a thoughtful, empathic character who turns out to be more powerful than we could have expected. I loved that – and thought the imagery surrounding the creepy (and sad) Greenwitch tradition and its connection to the Lady of the Sea to be by far, more interesting that anything else that appeared to this point in the series.

LET’S NOT FORGET: How the Light continues to erase people’s memories all the time and their dubious, vague reasons for engaging the help of CHILDREN in fighting EVIL. Do the dirty work yourselves, Light!

Regrets: That I did not read this book and series while gallivanting around Cornwall a couple of years ago.

Next: The Grey King on March 18, on this same Old School Channel.

Buy the Book:

(click on the links to purchase)



  • Catherine King
    March 6, 2015 at 4:48 am

    I am one hundred per cent on the same page about the Green Witch being more fascinating than anything else in the series up to that point. The Grey King has some beautiful and haunting images, but I would have happily read a lot more about the Green Witch and the magic of the sea.

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  • Claire
    March 7, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    I’ve also been rereading these! The first was a childhood favorite of mine and one of my comfort books, so I’ve been back to it over and over, but I was a little rusty on the later ones until I recently discovered WILL/BRAN SLASH. There isn’t enough WOW in the world for this ship. Unfortunately I couldn’t exactly remember how they parted, so I had to go back. And gosh, sometimes ships are flights of fancy and sometimes they’re subtext but this was practically TEXT. I can’t wait for more shippers to get on this train, because there is so much potential there, esp in the “Let’s Not Forget”s you mentioned above!

  • Dat Phong Sam Son
    March 8, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    The Grey King has some beautiful and haunting images.

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