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Getting better, and disconcerting re-reads
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The cold continues, but I'm feeling human enough today (especially by comparison to yesterday!) that I managed to get some good writing in this morning. So, ha! Take that, cold!

Of course, I'm lying on the couch right now with three box of tissues at close hand, so the cold has not quite given up its wily attacks yet. But I'm re-reading Susan Cooper's Greenwitch and really enjoying it, which is a nice distraction. It has been such a shock to me to re-read the Dark is Rising series as an adult, because my reactions to it this time round are total opposites to my reactions as a child. When I was a kid, The Dark is Rising was one of my very favorite books in the world. Every word was magic! Greenwitch, after that, felt like a major disappointment. The tone was different from the first book - a straightforward adventure rather than a semi-surreal, magical dream - and I hated having to switch POV characters - I just found the other kids, Jane, Simon, and Barney, to be an annoying intrusion on Will's beloved POV.

This time round...well, it hasn't been quite the same. I still love the magical atmosphere of The Dark is Rising - it really does feel like magic, which is such a gift - but as an adult, I was really shocked to find that it no longer worked for me as a book because of its structural issues. Will is almost 100% passive from beginning to end; things just sort of happen to him, with other people making the important decisions, all the way through the climax of the book, which means that the end felt flat and anticlimactic to me, and I'd largely lost interest in the novel by 2/3 of the way in. Greenwitch, on the other hand, seems so far to have active, interesting characters, so I'm enjoying it a lot more. (And I absolutely love Susan Cooper's Shakespearean kids' fantasy King of Shadows, which I read for the first time just last year.)

And the lesson for kids' fiction? It doesn't always matter if there are issues in a kids' book that will irritate some adult writers or readers. If someone had told me about structural "flaws" in The Dark is Rising when I was 10 years old, guess what I would have done? I would have either laughed in their face or thrown a book at them in outrage that anyone could criticize such a wonderful book for such a stupid reason. I adored The Dark is Rising, and I devoured every word of it, over and over again in many re-readings throughout my childhood. And who knows? Maybe if Susan Cooper had written it in a different structure, she would have lost the magic that made it perfect in my eyes, and in the eyes of so many other kids. I can't be an un-ambivalent fan of The Dark is Rising anymore - but it works perfectly for its intended audience, as I remember very clearly. And that's what really matters.

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