Friday, 23 January 2009

The Owl Service by Alan Garner

The Owl Service

Synopsis: From back cover:
'Scratchings in the loft above Alison's room - not mice or rats - but claws being sharpened, then Roger had felt himself reeling under the scream and the vibration of the ancient rock. And Alison was obsessed with those plates - she did nothing but trace the owl pattern on them. Gwyn couldn't fathom it yet, but he was trapped too in the Welsh valley and the legend.
Only old, half mad Huw knew the power of the ancient tragedy - of a maiden made from flowers who betrayed her husband, Lleu, with a lover. And Huw told Gwyn that now the lady had come again "She wants to be flowers but you make her owls. You must not complain, then, if she goes hunting. Lleu, Blodewedd and Gronw Pebyr - they are the three who suffer every time, for in them the power of this valley is contained and through them the power is loosed." Alison Roger and Gwyn had become those three ...'

Based on the Welsh Mabinigion tale of Blodewedd, Alan Garner writes a wonderful tale for young adults.. Mystery, legend, jealousy, class, and race are all mixed in this enchanting novel.

Re-reading it now as an adult, it is even more interesting to see how the tensions of class, which were being eroded in the 1960's. are incorporated into the tale, as well as the assumptions about the Welsh and Welsh valley life.

A very clever novel, with lots of layers - yet still enjoyable enough to be read just as a magical tale.
One of my favourite's still

.I actually live less than 10 miles away from Tomen-y-mur where this Mabinogion legend is said to take place. The stone is said to still exist, at Llech Ronw in the Cynfal Valley. More about this legend here

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