For some reason I read the second book of the “Dark is Rising” series before I read the first one. I didn’t realize I had done that until I discovered Over Sea, Under Stone and read that this was the first in a series. The second book, Dark is Rising was very odd. I couldn’t get into it and I struggled with the power to travel to alternate times that some of the characters had. I had the opposite experience when it came to Over Sea, Under Stone.
Over Sea, Under Stone is a contemporary quest taken up by Jane, Simon, and Barnabas Drew during their summer in Cornwall. They stumble upon a map that leads them on a quest and into the paths of some very dark individuals. While I was looking for this to be a book I might teach for a fantasy genre unit I’m putting together, I don’t think the fantastical elements are prominent enough for the students to pick out. Other than the fact that the kids are searching for a grail related to King Arthur there’s not much else that ties the book to the fantasy genre.
There’s a strong good-vs-evil motif driving everything and it’s all nearly tied up at the end, while giving room for sequels to follow. There’s lots of thrills and actions through this well-paced tome. Susan Cooper knows how to pace her plot to give us the right amount of thrill and catharsis. The children are irritatingly naive which gets them into so much trouble. They seem to forget clues or details they learned only the day before. It’s all made up for in the end with an acceptable conclusion.