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Greenwitch

by Susan Cooper
Series: The Dark is Rising #3
Reviewed by Jeanne

A well-written, moving tale with fascinating ties to Arthurian legend, but some spiritual content.

Plot

After the grail - one of the Things of Power, discovered by the three Drew children the previous summer - is stolen from the museum, Merriman (Great Uncle Merry) once again enlists the help of Simon, Jane, and Barnabas. They are brought again to the coastal village of Cornwall, and to their surprise find that they are not alone there: another boy has been brought by Merriman, curious, solemn Will Stanton.

In this time of the making of the Greenwitch, Merriman and the children must band together to recover the stolen Thing of Power before the Dark can rise and claim it for itself.

Power from the Greenwitch, lost beneath the sea...

Morality

This is a good-against-evil series, Light against Dark, so there is, naturally, a recognition of what is right and what is wrong. The Drew children have a hard time adjusting to Will Stanton at first, thinking that he will just get in the way of their quest for the grail, but Merriman reprimands them and tells them never to judge a person without better knowledge of them. All of them do a fair amount of lying to the people around them who are not part of the quest, both to protect these people and because they would not understand.

On the other hand, Jane shows kindness and pity where it is most needed; when a person of the Dark is hurt, Merriman sends him to a hospital despite his allegiances.

Spiritual Content

The Old Ones have the power to speak into one another's minds - telepathy, basically. Three spells are used to bring the Greenwitch from the sea, and there is a spiritual feel to the sides of Light and Dark. Some little magic is used by the Old Ones to make mortals forget things they have seen which will negatively affect them. The magic that binds the Greenwitch is known as the Wild Magic, and it plays a part in the story as well. The offering of the Greenwitch to the Lady of the Sea is thought to bring good fishing and harvest to the villagers.

Violence

Two skulls are glimpsed in the wreckage of a ship in the sea; a story involves the shooting of a man and the hanging of another; and in her anger the Greenwitch, or the Wild Magic, sweeps a character away into oblivion. The violence isn't graphic at all, but well done and in its place.

Drug and Alcohol Content

None.

Sexual Content

None.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

"My God" is used once by Will's father and "Oh lord" by Simon.

Conclusion

The smallest of the "Dark is Rising" books, "Greenwitch" is probably the most moving because of the Greenwitch's tale. Jane's part in the story is very sweet, and it was nice that Cooper made her role more critical than it was in the first book of the series. Will's development, too, was well done, and the way Simon progressed through the story was good.

There is some supernatural content here, such as the use of spells, but the powers of the Light and Dark are kept separate as the Light uses its powers only for good. It's a fine book for teenagers who are looking for a fantasy read besides Harry Potter. Its ties to history and to the legends of King Arthur make it, like its companions in the series, more than just entertainment, but also good for those who want to learn about some of the history of Britain.

Fun Score: 4.5
Values Score: 4
Written for Age: 13+

Review Rating:

Average rating: 5 stars
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