Review: The Owl Service (repost from GoodReads, 2018)

The Owl Service The Owl Service by Alan Garner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“She wants to be flowers, but you make her owls. You must not complain, then, if she goes hunting.”

I listened to this as an OverDrive audiobook. It’s a retelling of the legend of Blodeuwedd, set in modern Wales. Blodeuwedd was a woman created from flowers by the king of Gywnedd, Math, and the magician Gwydion, for Lleu Llaw Gyffes, a man who was cursed to take no human wife. She betrayed her husband with a man named Gronw, and convinced Gronw to kill Lleu. She was turned into an owl as punishment. In Garner’s novel, three teenagers find themselves reenacting the story, just as (it turns out) their parents’ generation once did.

Ali and her brother Roger are staying in a Welsh country house on vacation. Ali hears a scratching noise in the attic above her bed and sends the housekeeper’s son, Gwyn, to investigate. Gwyn climbs up to investigate the source of the scratching, and discovers a set of dishes (a “dinner service”) with an owl pattern on them….

There’s no overt violence, but there’s a disturbing feel throughout the book. The combination of a mythical and a contemporary tone is really well done. A captivating tale with a memorable ending, one of the best children’s books I’ve come across as an adult or a child. I’m sorry I never heard of this one when I was younger. I am sure I will read this again sometime.

Dimitri Fimi’s appreciation of the book is worth reading, here (spoilers!):…

View all my reviews

Published by Beth @ Beth's Bookish Thoughts

This blog is for my thoughts on reading. A couple of my friends on GoodReads have blogs, so eventually I decided to start one myself. I hope to get involved in the book blogging community and become a better reader and writer! I am not accepting copies of new books for review, but I would be interested in new editions or new translations of classic authors. Find me on Upwork (as an editor) in the profile link. From September 2018 to October 2020 I blogged at Blogger.

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