Tuesday, November 27, 2018

46. Greenwitch by Susan Cooper

Greenwitch is the third book of the 5-part well-regarded Dark Is Rising Sequence, a fantasy story in modern England where a family of children get involved in the war between the Dark and the Light.  I have to start this post with a complaint.  For some reason, it is extremely difficult to figure out the order of these books.  None of the versions I have found ever clearly show which books is which in the series.  It's maddening.  Just put a frickin' number somewhere!  Because of this, I have owned The Grey King for over a year now and never would have picked it up in the first place had I realized it wasn't the next one in the series.  I am sure I am just old and the kids that read this stuff have no problem figuring it out.

The last book had a really cool weather sequence, but I struggled to get into it.  I tried this time to really focus.  It's hard when the characters all have names like Will and Bill and Simon and Jane and because some characters are themselves in the modern world but also some older magical being, they may have several names, and different people use different names with them.  Furthermore, Cooper has this habit of having characters speak or appear in rooms where it hadn't been clearly established in the beginning that they were in the scene.  So again, I struggled with staying focused.

There are some real narrative issues as well, that I think contributed to my lack of interest.  First of all, there is no clear protagonist nor perspective.  The two brothers and sister, who were the heroes of the first book, join together on holiday with Will, who was the hero of the second book. Nobody gets central billing and we flit from character to character without any real structure.  More damning, the children really have zero agency and the reader has no real idea of what is going on.  We just wait for the old Lords of Light to tell us that something is going to happen but not say what and then we get to watch it happen.  It feels very passive, what we call deprotaganization in the tabletop RPG world. It's a bad thing.

There is some cool traditions of the Cornish town and the way they are woven into the overall narrative is quite clever.  I am hoping the flaws here may be most pronounced in the middle book.  I am reluctant to continue to read this series, but will plow forward.  I am still debating whether to jump into the next book right away or take a little break.

No comments: