Friday, 1 August 2014

The Owl Service

Alan Garner
(Armada Lion)

Something is scratching around in the attic above Alison's room. Yet the only thing up there is a stack of grimy old plates. Alison and her stepbrother, Roger, discover that the flowery patterns on the plates, when traced onto paper, can be fitted together to create owls-owls that disappear when no one is watching. With each vanished owl, strange events begin to happen around Alison, Roger, and the caretaker's son, Gwyn. As the kids uncover the mystery of the owl service, they become trapped within a local legend, playing out roles in a tragic love story that has repeated itself for generations... a love story that has always ended in disaster.

I've been wanting to give this one a read for a long time now but was waiting to find a nice old copy. I was finally able to track one down the other day (same edition as the one pictured) and jumped right in.

The story tells of a trio of teens and assorted adults in a house in a valley somewhere in mid Wales. The discovery of some old plates with drawings of owls on them links the three kids into an ancient story from the Mabinogion that has returned again and again to plague those of the valley.

It was an odd sort of read that left much unanswered - Why was Huw so respected in the village if he was simply one of the previous participants? Why had no one else spotted the fairly obvious solution to the problem?

There was little in the way of redemption at the end for the central characters and it made a nice change for it to be the more unpleasant of them to emerge as the hero.

An odd and intriguing book with a dark and uncompromising personality that leaves you feeling more than a little drained at the end.

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