The Owl Service by Alan Garner
London : Collins, 1969. Fourth printing. Hardcover. 156 pages ; 21 cm. $15 dust jacket unclipped. Lean to spine. Pages are unmarked and binding is firm.
The curious pattern on the dinner service which Alison finds in the loft bears a strange resemblance to an owl, a resemblance which at f first seems to be of passing interest but little significance. The moment the owl service is discovered, however, marks the beginning of a chain of events both disturbing and inexplicable which affect Alison, her step-brother Roger, and in particular the Welsh boy Gwyn, so responsive to the environment in which he considers himself to be trapped. Relentlessly ''the three young people are drawn into a situation from which there seems to be no escape, for the pattern of a tragic Welsh legend has begun to repeat itself and a modern drama is being played out against a background of ancient jealousies. Under stress, Gwyn tries to shake off his involvement with the people and the place, but there is no easy way out and as the tension mounts it becomes apparent that only by facing the situation can it be resolved.
Alan Garner is now firmly established as one of the most imaginative of all modern writers for young people. In his three earlier novels, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, The Moon of Gomrath, and Elidor, he fused fantasy and reality with a sure touch, earning high praise from the critics. The Owl Service will -undoubtedly stimulate further comment, for it is not like any other book. It is an emotional story which well repays more than one reading. The brooding atmosphere of Wales, the superbly realized characters, and the compelling power of the predicament in which they find themselves all contribute to a story not easily forgotten.
With The Owl Service, Alan Garner won both the Carnegie Medal and The Guardian prize for the best book of the year for young people.
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