The Owl Service

Alan Garner

The Owl Service
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The Owl Service

Alan Garner

Winner of both the Guardian Award and the Carnegie Medal, this is an all-time classic, combining mystery, adventure, history and a complex set of human relationships. It all begins with the scratching in the ceiling. From the moment Alison discovers the dinner service in the attic, with its curious pattern of floral owls, a chain of events is set in progress that is to effect everybody’s lives. Relentlessly, Alison, her step-brother Roger and Welsh boy Gwyn are drawn into the replay of a tragic Welsh legend - a modern drama played out against a background of ancient jealousies. As the tension mounts, it becomes apparent that only by accepting and facing the situation can it be resolved.


This is one of my all-time favourites, and don’t let the fact that it was first published in 1967 put you off! It’s still available in paperback with a very nice new glittery cover.

The Owl Service takes an old Welsh myth about a love triangle and puts a new spin on it. Roger, Alison and Gwyn are three teenagers thrown together for the summer holidays in a small house in Wales. The holiday quickly takes a strange turn when Alison hears scratching above her bedroom, and Gwyn discovers an old dinner setting covered with an owl pattern in the attic above. The plates have a strange hold on Alison who can’t seem to stop making hundreds of cutout paper owls. It soon becomes apparent that Roger, Alison and Gwyn may be doomed to replay the tragic events of the original myth.

The Owl Service isn’t just an exciting and scary story; it also has plenty to say about stepfamilies, jealousy, family secrets and the class system. Get to it!

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