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Pump Six and Other Stories
Paolo Bacigalupi

The Dark Is Rising

The Dark Is Rising  - Susan Cooper There is pretty much nothing I did not love about this reread, whether it was the hazy fondness of nostalgia or the sheer delight from the story in and of itself.

Oh, Will Stanton. I adore him at thirty almost as much as I did at ten. I love how visceral both his fear and wonder are. I love HIS FAMILY. Sorry, Drews; the Stantons kick your ass. I love the push and pull between Will-as-Old-One and Will-as-youngest-Stanton - the contrast between Wise Magical Dude and little boy never fails to delight.

This is the real introduction for this series, I find. This is the book of learning, the reveal. In some ways, I feel like Over Sea Under Stone is the Magician's Nephew of this series: sure, technically it may occur first chronologically, but I think reading it first is dumb (and that's only slightly because I started with this book first myself). This is the book that invites the reader into the realm of secret knowledge, just like Will gets.

And, for me, that's kind of the heart of why I like Will (and Bran, later on) better than the Drews. For all that the Drews are the human perspective on mystical stuff, the touchstone for those of us sadly outside of the Light and Dark, that's not what I want. I - especially ten year old me - didn't want the normal kids; I wanted to identify with the boy plucked from mundanity and welcomed wholeheartedly by magic. (I suppose see also: Harry Potter, but Will had my heart first.) I wanted to know more about the kid who found he had Phenomenal Cosmic Powers but also fucked up from time to time, because, hey, he's eleven, and the magic is amazing but terrifying. "Tomorrow will be beyond imagining" still gives me shivers.

Merriman and Hawkin broke my heart all over again.

I'd also forgotten just how much I love the setting for the story - the small town, the mysterious manor house, the familiar (for Will; English countryside was a delightful foreign prospect for me at ten) suddenly filled with Import and Meaning, Christmas, and the snow. Makes me want to curl up under a blanket, drink something warm, and reread it all over again.

And, oh! The music! Moreso than even the other Dark is Rising books, the music was a constant presence here. I think this is in part because it's set at Christmas-time, so I at least was more familiar with the songs used (and could therefore 'hear' them better in the context of the story), in addition to the Special Music Of The Light. Will and James singing together! (and Merriman's predictions about their voices!) Paul and his flute!

Which just reminds me of the first of many memory-based heartbreaking moments in this series - when Will wants to confide in Paul, tries, but it doesn't work, so he has to make him forget. I'm okay with this in this book (check back with me in Silver on the Tree omg), particularly because I like how Cooper balances the distance and logic of Will-the-Old-One with the disappointment and loneliness of Will-the-little-boy who is realizing just how separate from his family he's now become.

Also, Merriman is pretty much Morgan Freeman in my head. It makes his grand intonations and proclamations even! better! Just thought I'd share.