Cooper and DWJ's optimism --watch for SPOILER ALERT

EstairM at EstairM at
Thu Dec 9 02:36:26 EST 1999

Hi all.

I haven't read Cooper's stuff since I was a kid.  I loved it then, and part 
of what I loved was the 'dark' feeling much of it had.  Being fated to be an 
Old One, love and betrayal, etc.  It made me feel more grown-up.  I don't 
know if I'd like it so much today (am expecting baby #7 around my 39th b-day 
next month ;-)

But though I'm a die-hard DWJ fan ever since I picked up Dogsbody, Power of 
Three and the Magicians of Caprona at a used book sale more than 20 yrs ago, 
I admit I'm puzzled by people thinking her books are optimistic.  In a 
certain way, to me, many of them are much 'darker' than Coopers.  After all 
Cooper's are more supernatural Good Guys vs supernatural Bad Guys, so the 
scary dark parts are easily dismissible after the Good Guys win.

But in many of DWJ's books, the truly scary evil comes from very ordinary 
human beings.  In many of the books, a child is really threatened by an 
immediate family member.The whole Dalemark Quartet is very dark because it 
portrays the ordinary murderous ways people can behave to each other.  

For example, in The Spellcoats, the villagers readiness to kill a bunch of 
kids because they are different.  Or the ways the Earls have power over life 
and death in the later books -- and use it, along with torture, and other 
soul-destroying terror tactics on the population.  This is realistic 
representation of what has happened in many times and places in our world and 
is very depressing.  (Speaking as a child of a Holocaust survivor.) 

Some of the hardest stuff to deal with in DWJ's books is how often immediate 
family members are truly evil and dangerous to children.  Gwendolen, C 
Chant's uncle, and for me, the worst, Mitt's father.  I really didn't see him 
coming the first time I read Drowned Ammet, and couldn't handle it for days.  
It took years to re-read the book.  END OF SPOILER ALERT


Some of her books are lighter and more optimistic, Magicians of Caprona 
springs to mind.  I read that one aloud to my older kids and they loved it. 
Archer's Goon, most of the Chrestomancy stuff, Howl's Castle.  But Time of 
the Ghost!!!!!  Or the Homeward Bounders? Optimistic?!

Disagreements with any of the above more than welcome. ;-)

To unsubscribe, email dwj-request at with the body "unsubscribe".
Visit the archives at

More information about the Dwj mailing list