Want personalized picks that fit your family?

Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.

Get age-based picks

The Dark Is Rising

Book review by
Tara L. Rivera, Common Sense Media
The Dark Is Rising Book Poster Image
Classic fantasy is a bit slow, but enthralling.
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 19 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

A young man turns against his benefactor and follows the forces of the Dark.


A sign is burnt into a young boy's hand, but the scar later disappears. A mother breaks her leg when she is forced to throw herself down a flight of stairs. A flock of birds attack people. Multiple encounters between agents of the Dark and the Light.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the author's powerful narrative vision will draw young readers into this exciting tale. There is some fantasy violence and a young man turns against his benefactor and follows the forces of the Dark. This is the second book in a five-book series and actually the best one to start with.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byuwuwu April 9, 2008

this is a horrible book

This book had way too much violence, commercialism, and bevoiarl issues. I would not reccomend this book to any child under 13.
Adult Written byDDad October 2, 2009
On his eleventh birthday, a young boy discovers that he belongs to an ancient group of powerful beings. He is instructed in magical arts, and gets caught up in... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byihatereading101 April 9, 2008


um...this book was okay...it was really confusing though. i only read it cus i had to for school and i would have never picked it up otherwise. the chapters a... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byCSM Screen Name... April 9, 2008

I hated it

I found this book just so bad the only reason i read it was because I read it for school.

What's the story?

Will Stanton meets his destiny on his 11th birthday. He is the Sign-Seeker, last of the immortal Old Ones, who must find and guard the six great Signs of the Light that will overcome the ancient evil that is overpowering the land. This classic fantasy is a bit slow, but enthralling.

Is it any good?

This second book in the series of five invites readers into an intricate fantasy world. Susan Cooper convincingly combines fantasy elements with folklore and mythology. At times, however, the time-traveling sequences are subtle and hard to follow.

The characters in THE DARK IS RISING are more fully developed than those in the first book in the series, and many readers skip the first book entirely. Will struggles with his new identity, and readers see him mature: "Will was instantly a furious Old One, so furious that he did not pause to think what he should do." Both Merriman and Will are relentless in their shared quest, and Hawkin, the tragic Walker, whose Judas-like behavior sentences him to walk the earth for centuries, painfully shows how he is a casualty of the struggle between good and evil.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about great fantasies. What are your favorite fantasy reads and why? Do they have characteristics in common? Why is the struggle of good vs. evil such a common theme?

Book details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate