Book Review: Greenwitch by Susan Cooper

“Greenwitch” is the third book in The Dark is Rising Sequence. This novel brings back Simon, Jane, and Barney from “Over Sea, Under Stone” and also Will Stanton from “The Dark is Rising.” It returns to more of the feel of the first novel which has less overtly magical elements and odd magic rules. There is still definitely more magic than the first book, but nothing that is too difficult to imagine.

In “Greenwitch” great-uncle Merry rents a house in Treswick for a vacation with Simon, Jane, and Barney, as well as Will Stanton, his Uncle, and Aunt from America. The children and Merry are on a quest to recover the stolen grail (originally found in the first book) and the little canister with a small scroll that had been thrown into the ocean (also during the first book). An evil painter and the spirit of the Greenwitch hinder their plans, but the adventure works out well in the end.

I enjoyed this novel more than the last one because of its straightforward plot. I enjoyed seeing Will, as both an Old One and a child, interacting with the other children. There were more ghostly elements and some play with time, but not enough to make the book difficult to imagine like the last book. Overall, the book was magical in a standard way that readers of fantasy, fairytales, and myths would recognize.

One thing that I have noticed in these books is how different British culture is from American culture of today. Having lived in Scotland for some time before returning to the USA, the cultures still differ greatly in the freedom children have to wander around town. In the USA, especially in big cities, I can’t imagine putting my children on a train without an adult or to let them wander around town to entertain themselves. Part of that maybe that I am the mother of a special needs children who could get hurt without supervision, but the other part of that is just how dangerous American cities are. With gang violence, reckless drivers, child trafficking, and just grumpy adults everywhere hating the presence of children, I read these novels with a level of sadness at what most American children cannot do. I wish for a world in which children could act more independently so that they were actually ready for adulthood when it came.

Both this novel and the first one does not address the issue of other world religions or Christianity specifically. It has no real violence or romance. There is one use of “Damn,” in a realistic context which is more a concern for American parents than many international ones. Overall, I consider all the books so far in this series extremely clean reads for middle school readers and older.

Again, I would recommend this book as a fun read and look forward to the next one, “The Grey King.”