This is a little known Cooper gem that has undoubtedly been overshadowed by Cooper's classic "Dark is Rising" sequence. So, appropriately enough given its themes and structure, it lurks in the shadows waiting to be discovered by Cooper completists. Cooper has written other books as well, including her successful Boggart books for younger readers, so "Seaward" keeps drifting lower and lower on the Cooper search return list. Congratulations on finding this book. And what have you found?
This book is both different from and similar to the "Dark is Rising" books. Those books are all grounded in a here and now reality into which the heroes of myth and legend intrude. The protagonists step back and forth through the veil that separates myth from reality and a good deal of the tension and suspense in those books arises from how the two alternate/parallel worlds influence each other. "Seaward" takes an entirely different tack. In chapter 1 our hero Westerly appears in a strange and foreign land. In chapter 2 our heroine Callie falls through a mirror and enters that same out-of-time and out-of-place world. The balance of the action takes place in this vaguely threatening and often confusing world. There is no anchoring, comfy reality. This gives the book a dreamy and unsettling atmosphere throughout the tale.
In a similar vein, the "Dark is Rising" books portray a battle between good and evil, between the Dark and the Light, and the distinctions are clear. "Seaward" is different in that almost every character has two aspects and almost every choice could go either way. "Seaward" is much more about deciding what's the right thing to do instead of knowing what's right.
But still, the apple never falls far from the tree, and so in "Seaward" we find similar themes of love, duty, honor, grief, free will, and even love. Our heroes are followed almost step by step by a man and a woman who obviously have great magical power in this strange land and their regal presence touches on all of the most noble aspects of high fantasy and Celtic myth. They are never really named until the end of the book, and they are never identified with any particular recognizable Celtic tale, but they are undeniably part of the legend and myth tradition that powered the "Dark is Rising" books.
This is a brief book and is, as I noted, a bit on the dreamy side. But it also has thrills, adventures, and some gripping action/adventure scenes. Our heroes are, after all, fleeing from something on a path that's laid with peril. You can read the book as fantasy-adventure, or as a romance of sorts, or as allegory, or as part of a life/death myth cycle, or even as a mystery. All of those approaches work because Cooper has packed so much into this book. As I say, a gem, but with many facets.
- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Margaret K McElderry; Reissue ed. edition (27 August 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1442473266
- ISBN-13: 978-1442473263
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.8 x 19.4 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 227 g
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