The Dark Is Rising review
Production company – BBC World Service
As I was listening to this series, it reminded me of the fantasy stories that were popular when I was growing up (and that I didn’t like). I tended to only learn about them when they got dramatised on Children’s BBC, usually at Christmas. As I was reading up on the original story to research this review, it turns out that it is indeed based on a classic children’s fantasy book series. I’m still not reading them though!
So what’s it about?
The story follows the adventures of Will Stanton. It is the day before his 11th birthday, Midwinter Eve, and strange things are afoot. Mysterious lurkers, nervous animals and cryptic warnings lay the groundwork for a truly bizarre adventure.
Meanwhile, across the world in Jamaica, Will’s brother receives a gift from a stranger. With the instructions that this gift is for Will, the stranger seems to know an awful lot about the family, and Will in particular.
So what is in store for young Will? Well, I’m obviously not going to tell you, am I? I’m not into spoilers as you well know, so you’ll have to subscribe and find out for yourselves.
Is it any good?
The cast, for the most part, is very good. The inclusion of Toby Jones in anything is usually a seal of approval. He is joined by Harriet Walter, Paul Rhys and Thomas Arnold. The actual cast is rather small with many of the actors playing multiple roles. I suspect that this is more to do with the central plot device than something like budget limitations.
Adapted for audio, directed and narrated by the brilliant Simon McBurney, someone who is fresh in my mind after playing the deliciously creepy protagonist in the TV drama Hijack. He has one of those distinctive voices that I immediately recognised.
I suspect this would appeal to the mid 40s folk horror fan. Whilst I would describe myself as that, I was never really into the Alan Garner “Low Fantasy” type stories.
It is when I have to write reviews like this i realise what a contrarian I am. I can’t explain it. I said I’m not really into these type of stories, but I did really like the TV adaptations of Moondial and The Children Of Green Knowe when I was young, so maybe it’s more that I have come to this story too late. Who knows?
I suspect that it is to my detriment that I avoided stories like these as a child. Honestly, I was reading rather more full on horror than this style of child-centric folk mystery that I think is almost exclusively British. I reckon if I had read those type of stories, I would have loved this.
As I have said in previous reviews, this is just my opinion, and if my synopsis appeals to you, then absolutely check this out. There is, after all, much to enjoy here. It’s just not to my personal taste.
You can get The Dark Is Rising here: