As we get closer to Christmas, we’re looking for more Christmas Comfort recommendations from our authors. In this blog post Philippa East, author of Little White Lies and the upcoming Safe and Sound, discusses why she turns to The Dark is Rising in the festive season…
Philippa East’s Christmas Comfort Read: The Dark is Rising
When I want a ‘comfort’ read, I tend to return to the books of my childhood. The familiarity of these stories lets me sink deeply into the narratives, returning to characters I know and love, and reliving the twists and turns of the tale while knowing it all turns out right in the end.
When it comes to the perfect book to dive into on a dark winter’s evening, for me it has to be The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. I probably first read these books when I was about twelve or thirteen, and found them incrediably immersive and haunting.
About The Dark is Rising
Drawing on the mythic folklore of Britain, The Dark is Rising series pulls back the veil on an eerie, magical and awe-inspiring world where the age-old forces of Dark and Light do battle. Part of the power of these books comes (I think) from the fact that many of the characters and events begin ostensibly in our real, recognisable, day-to-day world… but the edges of this world are blurred, and dreams, talismans and artefacts provide flickering doorways into this other realm.
Immersed in these books, I always felt that this hidden world was just beyond my own fingertips. Out there somewhere in the winter dark. This was both thrilling and frightening for me. Reading these books drew me into that liminal space between my reality and… something else. The children in these books – Simon, Jane, Barney and Will – weren’t so different to me. It was possible, it could happen. Then, there was always something deeply comforting and reassuring about looking up from the pages and finding myself in an ordinary sitting room, with ordinary chairs and the warmth from an ordinary radiator.
How it Has Inspired Me
I think perhaps The Dark is Rising series shapes my writing even now. Through these books, it became impossible not to believe in the existence of dark forces operating in the world, and to know that they had done so through all of time. In my own stories, I am always keen to scratch the surface to reveal the darkness beneath a pretty facade, or to delve into the troubled places in our minds and lives. Perhaps reading these books as a child was a safe way to explore such darkness – and to trust in the ‘power of the light’. Either way, I still now find them perfect companions to curl up with on a winter’s evening, following the epic adventures with a shivery thrill, while the snow falls and the wind howls outside…