>Susan Cooper – Over Sea, Under Stone (Dark is Rising Sequence book 1)

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Over Sea, Under Stone relies heavily on clichés.  Young siblings stay in an old house filled with books on their vacation.  They have a very mysterious Great Uncle who knows more than he leads on.  The kids find a treasure map in the attic of this old house which turns out to be a map to a holy Grail holding the secrets of King Arthur.  Some strangers befriends the kids and their family only to turn out to be bad people who want the treasure map and the secret hidden at the end of the map.

Personally using clichés does not bother me as much as some other people.  Maybe it’s because I am a teacher and get constantly told to “not reinvent the wheel”.  Anyways, there are far bigger problems in the book than the use of clichés.  Probably the biggest problem is the non-chalantedness of the three children.  Young they may be, but they should still be able to guess that their lives are in danger.  And yet time and time again their actions seem to suggest they just consider it a game.  Then you compound this problem with the Great Uncle who most definitely knows the dangerous situation the kids are in and still chooses to let them carry out this mission instead of doing it himself or finding someone more suitable.

Lastly, why is this book in the realm of fantasy?  Sure it speaks of King Arthur, but that’s about it.  Calling one group of people good and one group evil does not automatically make it an epic struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil.  Disagree if you wish, but fantasy is a literary genre just like anything else.  You don’t get to get away with putting out mediocre stuff.

Well I knew even before picking up the books (yeah I have the whole sequence) that the popularity of the books was based on book 2, The Dark is Rising, so I will refrain from calling this series ridiculous until I’ve read that one at least.

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