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Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper

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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 727
  • Category: Novel

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Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper is a novel that begins a series of books that leads readers into the wild unknown of our imagination.  It is a fictional account most associated with fantasy.  Susan Cooper leads readers through a realm of magic and curiosity where a family of children who go to an old man’s house and discover odd, magical, scary, and charming events.  It is, in effect, a battle of good versus evil that can easily be related to by readers young and old.

In developing the theme, the author took ideas from other famed classics such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  The main characters in the story are three siblings—two brothers and a sister.  They travel into the unknown by discovering mystery in a whole new world that is behind the closet in a rich old man’s home.

The story begins in a normal neighborhood setting where an attempted burglary makes the news.  After this, however, readers are lead into the world of the imagination of Susan Cooper.  The characters become lost in this fantasy closet that seems to have no beginning or end.  It is a land of excitement and make-believe situations that are written with such power that readers want to believe it could really happen.

The main characters of the novel choose to enter this magical closet.  They get lost and must find a way to work together and adapt to the environment where paintings seem to come life, right before their very eyes.

The characters in the story are young children.  Simon is the leader. At least that is the position he wants to be in as the story unfolds.  His brother and sister, however, aren’t so sure Simon should be leading this journey.  Simon is a confident individual who is not afraid to speak up and take charge as the characters are faced with strange and magical events.

 Jane, his sister, is a difficult person to understand.  She is also courageous and, at the same time, puzzling and odd.  Jane, unfortunately, fits the stereotypical mold of the female heroine.  She is there to bring them out of desperate situations when they are faced with doom.  The third child in the family, Barney, also shows that he is capable of being a hero when they need help in overcoming disaster but Barney truly needs to be led by Simon and Jane.

Along with the children in this fantasy story, the mother and father play minor roles, but they are necessary in order for Susan Cooper to create a well-rounded storyline.  The parents’ main job is to escort the children to the house.  Other than this, they are not needed.

It’s a novel that toys with a realistic situation that is blended with a fantasy realm that might only happen in a dream.  The Great-Uncle Merry is a character with much deeper emotions.  He is a very likeable character.  I like to think of him as more of a great wizard who is there to guide the children as they discover themselves and learn how to adapt, make decisions, and, above all else, learn from their mistakes.  In fact, an underlying subplot surrounds the idea that the children are faced with life experiences and must overcome the odds. They learn from their mistakes along the way and develop as individuals in this strange, fanciful setting of mysterious wonderment.

In conclusion, Over Sea, Under Stone is a story of good versus evil.  There is also a dominant message in the novel surrounding great conflict.  The characters learn from their mistakes in the various trials they face in this magical realm behind the wardrobe.  Readers see how the characters deal with deceit and a seductive wizard.  The story opens up the readers eyes to a new way of looking at what it takes to make good choices, aid those in need, and work toward a greater good. In the end, it’s the imaginative spirit within a person that creates the joy and passion necessary to succeed, both, in the magical realm created by Susan Cooper and in life.


Cooper, Susan. Over Sea, Under Stone. New York, Harcourt Brace, 1965.




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