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Summary

On holiday in Cornwall, the three children discover an ancient map in the attic of the house that they are staying in. They know immediately that it is special. It is even more than that - the key to finding a grail, a source of power to fight the forces of evil known as the Dark. And in searching for it themselves, the Drews put their lives in peril.

This is the first volume of Susan Cooper's brilliant and absorbing fantasy sequence know as The Dark Is Rising. 

©1965 Susan Cooper (P)2001 Random House, Inc. Listening Library, an imprint of the Random House Audio Publishing Group

Critic reviews

"Jennings' ability is outstanding as he slips in and out of the numerous voices with the rapid dialogue as it approaches the climax....This is an outstanding reading of a classic tale that all young listeners and adults will thoroughly enjoy." ( School Library Journal)

What listeners say about Over Sea, Under Stone

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Classic fantasy novels for children and adults.

What made the experience of listening to The Dark Is Rising Sequence, Book One the most enjoyable?

This is the audiobook version of a novel I read and reread as a child. It was lovely to be able to revisit it as an adult and find that it was just as good as I remembered!

Any additional comments?

The narration was clear and unintrusive, the story still a cracking good yarn of Arthurian fantasy brought to modern day Cornwall. My only criticism is that the second book in the series doesn't seem to be available on audible, even though the later ones in the series are!

8 people found this helpful

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Brilliant - loved by young and old alike

If you could sum up The Dark Is Rising Sequence, Book One in three words, what would they be?

Magical, intriguing, thrilling.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Dark Is Rising Sequence, Book One?

The moment the three children find the map... this is the moment their lives change forever. The rest of the beautifully told story is a race against time and against their foes.

What does Alex Jennings bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Alex Jennings does a wonderful job of injecting each 'voice' with character and adding the right amount of emotion to each event. He was the perfect choice as a reader for this book. You forget you are listening and just become absorbed in the story.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

If we had had the time, we would have listened to this all in one go!

Any additional comments?

Over Sea, Under Stone is just as good as I remembered from my childhood, and it was a wonderful experience listening with my children. Better written than the Harry Potter books, in my opinion (the children didn't agree with me on this one, they think Harry Potter has the edge) but with as much imagination and excitement. Great fun!

4 people found this helpful

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Great in-car listening

If you could sum up The Dark Is Rising Sequence, Book One in three words, what would they be?

Exciting, absorbing, adventurous.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Jane - pretty positive girl character for the age of the book, adventurous, imaginative and brave.

Which character – as performed by Alex Jennings – was your favourite?

Mrs Palk

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, definitely

Any additional comments?

We listened to this on a couple of long car journeys as a family (mum & dad, 12 year old and 9 year old girls) and found it really good for making the hours pass by - in fact at one point we arrived at our destination (grandparents' house) and none of us wanted to get out of the car and stop listening! We've downloaded books 3,4 and 5 of the series now and are looking forward to continuing book 4 later in the summer - we have a pact that we can't listen unless we're all together! Alex Jennings reads it in a really accessible and absorbing way and his range of voices is such that you can always tell who is speaking. Just a shame book 2 isn't available on Audible - we've read it at home but it would be nice to have the full set of recordings.

6 people found this helpful

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A captivating story by Susan Cooper

I read this book when I was 13 years old and at 50 I have just listened to it again on Audible. I am still captivated by it, the characters and the wonderful, detailed description of a Cornish fishing village. It's a great story, set in today's world but based on the legend of King Arthur and a centuries long battle between good and evil. My only gripe with this recording is that Alex Jennings uses a somewhat feeble, pathetic voice for the character of Barney. When reading the book, I remembered Barney as a much bolder character, despite being the youngest child in the story. I still really enjoyed it though and am looking forward to listening to the rest of the books in the sequence now too on Audible.

2 people found this helpful

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Simply perfect

This must be one of the best young person's books of all time. The setting in a Cornish village with that hint of small town weirdness; the characters who are good and evil and we don't quite know initially who's who; the sense if a treasure hunt and fab conclusion. I loved the book back in 1984 and I bought this as pure nostalgia: that sense of summers of times past in a simpler world when I read it. It lived up to expectations. The narration by fine actor Alex Jennings is just perfect: it's a fine narrator who actually manages not to "be there": they just articulate the book in your own head.

2 people found this helpful

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Back to my childhood

I remember reading this ffantastic tale of mystery, set in Cornwall, when I was at Infant School. The years rolled away and I remember how this series captivated me. I would highly recommend the Dark is Rising. It is read well and is a wonderful story, what ever your age.

2 people found this helpful

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The only thing wrong

with this audible book is the very beginning and the end. 'Audible Kids' is horrible.

2 people found this helpful

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a classic

beautifully written, with a nostalgic feel for summers long past, this story catches the imagination. well read too.

2 people found this helpful

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Marvellously menacing!

What made the experience of listening to The Dark Is Rising Sequence, Book One the most enjoyable?

Being able to sit down and have the story read to me. It was just like being a kid again, alongside the characters!

What did you like best about this story?

The fact that that the adventure started in the most ordinary way, with a rainy day and the children stuck in an old house. Once the quest had begun, I almost felt like part of the gang.

What does Alex Jennings bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

I read the book years ago, and enjoyed it very much, but Alex Jennings made each of the characters come alive in a different way, and I could "see" much more when he described things.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, most definitely! I had to break off because my tablet ran out of charge, so I ended up having a very late night listening to it on my computer!

Any additional comments?

Would very much like to listen to the rest of the series, but I understand that the second book isn't available. Please, please do something about that. The film doesn't do the story any justice, and "The Dark is Rising" deserves to be known properly by a wider audience.

2 people found this helpful

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Exciting beginning to classic series

I read this as a child many years ago but it was a much more exciting story than I remembered it being, largely thanks to Alex Jennings' excellent narration. It's a less obviously magical story than later books in the series, but serves as a very good introduction to the battle between the Dark and the Light. There are some lovely descriptive passages and the final chapters are thrilling. I really enjoyed revisiting this as an adult and have only one question - why isn't the second book in the series available?

2 people found this helpful

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  • Bryan J. Peterson
  • 02-06-12

A short but excellent tale.

I actually started this series, although I didn't know it was such at the time, back in 1993 whenI was in Junior High, with the fourth volume. It wasn't until about ten years later that I got the proper skinny on it and read the series in proper order. Over Sea, Under Stone opens with the Drew family, Dick, Ellen and their three young children, arriving in Cornwall for a summer vacation, which they'll be spending with their Great Uncle Merry, a mysterious professor who often appears unexpectedly on the Drews' doorstep to vanish just as quickly in the night. While exploring the massive house that Uncle Merry, Meriman Lyon to the wider world, the three Drew children, Simon, Jane and Barney, discover an ancient manuscript which they believe to be a map showing the location of what they believe to be an ancient treasure. Though a game to the three Drews, the importance of the manuscript begins to surface, first when a mysterious man and a woman claiming to be his sister appear and ask the Drews about secret passages and maps, then even more so later when the house is burglarized while the Drews sleep. Realizing what the thieves must have been after, the childen show the manuscript, which they managed to keep safe, to Uncle Merry, who reveals that the treasure is in fact an ancient grail from the time of King Arthur. Thus begins a dangerous race as the Drews attempt to decipher the clues of the map and reach the grail before their myysterious enemies do. But it quickly becomes apparent that their foes, though relatively few in number, are extremely resourceful, and the outcome of the race is continually in doubt.
As usual with audiobooks, the narrator can sometimes ruin the experience even if the story itself is good. Fortunately that wasn't the case here. British actor Alex Jennings not only has a good voice for storytelling but also a talent for accents and dialects that lend personality to the characters he portrays, from the Cornish accents of the village locals to Uncle Merry's deep, commanding tones. This is definitely a listen I wuld recommend to others. It's not an entirely traditional fantasy with swords, dragons and wizards but it's a gripping tale all the same.

25 people found this helpful

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  • Euryleia
  • 30-11-07

solid tale

This is a solid adventure story; a good start to the series and much less surreal than the stories to follow. I found, revisiting this as an adult, that the 'voices' of the children seemed to be just a little off- they kept saying things in a way that were much older than the characters themselves were (but that could just be a culture difference I guess, as I'm American and not British). Also, the peril wasn't very believeable this time around. I do remember that when I first read the books at around 10 years old I was completely enthralled, but now the conflict seems fabricated with no real power. Still, I'd recommend it for the 6-11 crowd.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 28-05-20

I had to stop reading this series

First, let me point out the caveat that as a 23 year old guy, I am far from this series' target audience. Still that barely excuses such a poor mishandling of storytelling as I have experienced here. It's hard for me to exactly pin down what has rubbed me so badly. Was it the reliance on poorly explained decision making, the lack of intrigue from a plot that prophesies itself, or the awakening to great "deus ex machina" powers without enough tribulation to make such empowering feel earned? Perhaps it was the simultaneous glossing over of the Arthurian legends the series leans so heavily on with vague 'figure it out for yourself' descriptions that require a pre-existing knowledge of the legends to understand what the writer is referring to. Knowledge that I might add, this series' target audience is unlikely to know. This is seen more clearly in the later books in the series, but the whole narrative feels very shallow. It's like you're standing at the edge of a beach full of potential, but there is a chain in the way. You can only see the beach and imagine how great it would be to experience it. It is utterly disappointing, and failed to keep me invested in the story enough to reach the conclusion. As far as the narrator goes, I have next to nothing I could even try to nitpick. He is very good at keeping each character's voice consistently distinct so you're never wondering who is speaking at any time, and his narration is spot on. The only oddity is that sometimes there is no pause between the end of a chapter and him reading out the heading of the next. It creates a jarring and sharp transition that takes your mind a moment to process. That all being said if you do want a story following the same lore and theme as The Dark is Rising, I would strongly recommend Henry H. Neff's "The Tapestry" over this series.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Trinity A. Greer
  • 14-03-17

Hardy Boys meets Narnia

Great book for all ages. Fast paced and likable characters - in the vein of Lemony Snicket meets Hardy Boys with a dash of Narnia.

2 people found this helpful

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  • suerhae
  • 09-07-12

I am a kid at heart....and so is this book!

Would you listen to Over Sea, Under Stone again? Why?

I like reading light hearted books so I loved this one. I liked the twists and turns even if they were not complecated.

What about Alex Jennings’s performance did you like?

The voices and personalities were very nice with acents and all.

Any additional comments?

The fight between good and evil is always a good plot.

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Nathan
  • 10-12-13

Just remember it's a classic and for kids

It was an easy read as I read it over a weekend as part of a readathon.
Not quite sure how to fairly review this. It's written as a kids books so the plot is simple. Group of kids in a new place track down a mystery in classic good vs. evil. Was its 40th anniversary so the tropes and cliche's probably weren't back then. At first I wasn't sure if I was reading a Narnia book by mistake.
The pacing had a good flow keeping me interested. I like the main kids interaction and thought it was authentic. Overall a good start to a series and a classic to declare I have rea

3 people found this helpful

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  • Lois
  • 26-02-13

Scared like a kid

Where does Over Sea, Under Stone rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The book is a simple good vs evil story, set in a more innocent time
Lovely child's story
But...
The suspense nearly killed me and I couldn't stop listening til the very end!!!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Rufus the dog
Maybe Gummery too

Have you listened to any of Alex Jennings’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

Any additional comments?

Loved it

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Dorothy
  • 02-12-07

Over Sea, Under Stone

I bought this for my 10 year old grandson and I am not sure which of us enjoyed it more! It is a nicely paced story which held our interest. Some great twists and also connections with history.

5 people found this helpful

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  • SuzeQ
  • 06-11-20

loved iy

owned the series for yrs & bow the audible. Well done. Chills & thrills. ♥️

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  • Lars1470
  • 10-07-20

1 of my favorites!

This is the 1st in a great series...fot some reason a movie was made of a later book but they should have done this one. It explains so much! I recommend the whole series!