I am reading them to Isabel at the moment. We are almost finished with book 4, The Grey King and I’m constantly reminded of how much I loved them as a child and how much they shaped what I’m looking for in books.
I was 10 or 11 when my teacher, who was also the school’s librarian, handed me The Dark is Rising one day at school and said “I think you’d like this one”. I took it home and showed it to my Mum who asked if she could read it first. Not sure if she was vetting my reading or not and I said sure – I was a little scared by the cover illustration.
She finished it quickly and handed it back to me saying I should definitely read it, but that it was a bit scary. Which of course made me put it at the back of the queue – I had mostly read Little House and Anne of Green Gable by then so scary books weren’t really my thing (or so I thought).
Then the date when I had to bring the book back to school was getting closer and I sat down to read it after all. And my memory is that I devoured it in one sitting, berating my mother for saying it was scary and immediately bringing it back to my teacher asking for more of the same.
For some reason The Dark is Rising was the first book to be translated into Swedish so I read them out of order.
I got four of the books over the next year or two and read them over and over again while hoping to get the fifth and last book for my birthday. A few weeks before my birthday I was home sick and I got permission to take a nap in my Mum’s bed. I put my hand underneath her pillow and pulled out Silver on the Tree. She had bough it for me and was reading it herself before giving it to me.
It took all my willpower to put the book back without reading it and then wait until the book turned up, wrapped for my birthday.
As I learned more English in school I found myself attempting to translate the books into English in my head as I read them. But it wasn’t enough. I wanted to read them in English. So – this was before Internet and Amazon in the late 80’s – I went to a book store in town and asked them to track the books down for me and they found the sequence – all five books in one.
I brought it with me on our graduation trip to Yugoslavia (before the Balkan-war) and got a lot of comments from my class mates on why I read in English and what a snob I was. I didn’t care.
Since then I’ve read it several times – usually when I’m sick and need a distraction from my stuffed nose or sore throat. I can usually finish one book in a day so they are on my annual re-read list – sick or not.