I remember reading a book in the 70s, so it could be YA. It is set on modern-day Earth, and the story is about a boy. His mother is sick (maybe cancer?) and he is socially awkward, so he doesn't have much self-esteem. He stumbles upon an old building (maybe a barn?) and somehow meets a person/creature who tells him that the King of Light (or maybe the King of Sun) and the Queen of Dark (or maybe the Queen of Moon?) have been at war with each other for a long time, each wanting to take over. He is told he has been given the choice over who will rule.

The boy thinks the Queen is beautiful, so he chooses her. Everything feels calm, and people who were mean to him are no longer mean. However, as he goes about his day, he sees that people become more and more sad, depressed, and lethargic. His mother in particular becomes sullen and morose. No one has any energy. Frantic, he runs back to the space and says that he wants to make a different choice...

So, the boy chooses Light. This time as he goes about his day, he sees his mother having more energy to work around the house, people are accomplishing things, etc. After a while, however, he sees that people are becoming too angry and too rough. There is too much energy and people start fighting.

He goes back to the place, frightened and confused. He says that both choices brought negative reactions, so both choices were wrong. If both choices were wrong, how could he choose?

The person/creature tells him that there is a right choice. The boy is confused. The person/creature tells him that he had another choice. He could choose to do nothing.

And that is what he chooses.

So, balance is restored and the war between Light and Dark continue. The moral is something like “balance is necessary and one must fight to keep that balance.”

I've always wanted to find the book again, but I cannot remember a title nor an author. If anyone knows what book this is, I will be eternally grateful.

  • 2
    Was it something about Yin and Yang??
    – Racerulez
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 22:46
  • 1
    I think I've read this... this is going to drive me crazy until I get it... Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 18:54
  • 5
    Some of the dead ends I pursued -- I thought it might be a short story by Diana Wynne Jones or Eleanor Farjeon, but can't find one that fits. I also thought it might be an incident from one of the Mary Poppins books --there is a similar theme about a celestial circus, but it is not the same. I have a feeling it might be a smaller incident from a longer book, but have come up empty so far. Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 13:27
  • 1
    I don't now, but maybe you talk about [link]( en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mio,_My_Son ) Mio, my Son
    – Mouvre
    Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 5:43
  • 3
    OP here..still looking for the book. It is so vivid in my head...I cannot believe that it still eludes me after all these years. Thanks so much for looking!
    – Daphne
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 6:47

2 Answers 2


I'm going to make a blue sky guess: was it The Halfmen of O by Maurice Gee? [someone said yin and yang above and the front cover of this had a yin and yang symbol; it must be a new cover edition on the amazon page to not have it]


Might be worth checking out The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. Time period is a match (1973-1977 release dates), and the main protagonist (well, in the titular book of the series, anyway) is an 11-year-old boy who discovers he has a major role to play in the ongoing battle between Light and Dark. Set in modern times. The Wikipedia entry contains some pretty serious spoilers if you drill too far down, so beware.

There are characters like the archetypes you describe -- I'm a little hesitant to confirm the sick mother subplot; I don't recall that, but I haven't cracked this book open since the mid-80s, so anything is possible.

  • 4
    This doesn't seem like a match at all, other than a boy and a light/dark conflict which is very generic. In this the boy is of the Light, the Dark are malign, and the most powerful of the Light is a woman, not the Sun.
    – DavidW
    Commented Aug 14, 2019 at 21:10
  • 2
    I was also reminded of "The Dark is Rising" sequence, specifically of the ending of Silver on the Tree but this isn't a close match at all. There is no balance in SotT (the Dark is simply evil), and no retracted choices. There is no King and Queen, either. Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 0:06
  • 1
    The sick mother aspect reminds me a bit of The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis, but nothing else there fits. Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 0:07
  • I'm very familiar with The Dark is Rising sequence, and this storyline seems too trite even for Cooper Commented Jan 1, 2023 at 2:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.