Considerably shorter than The Dark Is Rising, the third book in the sequence of high fantasies inaugurated by Over Sea, Under Stone combines the elements introduced and developed in the first two books with a new motif - Greenwitch. Simon, Jane and Barney Drew - joined by Will Stanton and Great Uncle Merry - find themselves again in Cornwall, searching once more for the Trewissick Grail, chalice, which has mysteriously disappeared from the British Museum.
In the Cornish coastal town of Trewissick itself, only Jane is permitted to join the local women one night in their yearly ritual of weaving the Greenwitch - a framework in the shape of a woman, woven from hazel, rowan and hawthorn branches. Jane unaccountably pities the simulacrum and wishes her happiness before the Greenwitch is cast into the sea to greet "the summer and charm...a good harvest of crops and fish." Simon and Barney discover the Grail in the possession of a frenetic painter, an emissary of the powers of the Dark, and Jane ultimately becomes instrumental in securing the small lead case "the only manuscript able to unravel...the secret of the grail."
The marvellously sustained pace of the story skilfully modulates from the reality of everyday life through superstition and folklore to confrontation with the numinous; and, at the very central point in the story, one accepts as verisimilar the episode in which Uncle Merry and Will Stanton "like diving birds...flashed into the water, leaving no ripple in the great Atlantic swells" and sought out Tethys, the ancient ocean goddess and Queen of the Wild Magic, indifferent to both the Light and the Dark. But, in the long run, the story is Jane's. The final sentences of the narrative mention that in her room "there was a great mess of little twigs and leaves, hawthorn leaves and rowan. And everywhere the great smell of the sea." Alan Garner's The Owl Service ends with a similar epiphany; and the rhythmic interchanges between the commonplace and the marvelous in Greenwitch not only suggest Garner, but glory in their own power.
( from Horn Book Review - 1975)
Greenwitch is the book that draws together Will Stanton, the youngest of the Old Ones, and the Drew children, first seen in Over Sea Under Stone.
This book is the shortest of the DR series and concentrates on Jane the only female member of the main DR protagonists. The story centres on the search for the Grail, found by the Drews in Over Sea, Under Stone, which has been stolen from its home in the British Museum. The trail leads to the Cornish village of Trewissick, the setting for Over Sea, Under Stone.
Greenwitch is perhaps the simplest book of the whole series. However, it is the only book that concentrates on a girl as the main character. I have re-read Greenwitch and it is a powerful book. The supernatural forces are stirred by the making of this thing of power. But cutting through it all is the female-to-female interaction between Jane and the melancholic Greenwitch. Jane's importance in the DR books is re-visited in Silver on the Tree. It is Jane who is visited by The Lady when "the mountains are singing." The Lady tells Jane of the next stage of Bran and Will's quest to find the sword Eirias in the final battle to stop the Dark from rising.
I originally read Greenwitch back-to-back with Over Sea, Under Stone. At that time I had just completed The Dark Is Rising at school and hunted desperately for the other published books. So, in one weekend, while staying with my Great Aunt, I reclusively, and hungrily, read Over Sea, Under Stone and Greenwitch. I must have presented the archetypal picture of a child lost in a book - legs crossed beneath me in an outsized chair, absorbed in the pages and the world of Trewissick. I read them both terribly quickly and I vividly remember putting down Greenwitch, with the words of the prophetic rhyme, deciphered from the sides of the Grail, still ringing in my head. "What now?" I thought, breathless. Well, the hunt was on for The Grey King...