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The Owl Service (Junior Classics) Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged

4.2 out of 5 stars 105 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD: 5 pages
  • Publisher: Naxos AudioBooks; Unabridged edition (1 Oct. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 962634931X
  • ISBN-13: 978-9626349311
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 12.7 x 14 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 144,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Published over 40 years ago, The Owl Service is set in Wales in a grand house used only in the summer by an English family. Its residents are unaware of the ancient forces that dwell in the valley and are stirring again. Three young people, two English and one Welsh, are pulled into a drama of class and national animosity that becomes linked to a primeval sin of hubris. This completely enthralling story is read by Wayne Forester, a virtuoso of men and women's voices as well as of regional accents: from Welsh of different classes to English ones, snooty to mild. Forester proceeds at an unhurried pace that increases the plot's tension while intermittent passages of spooky music further tighten it. --Katherine A. Powers, Washington Post

Experienced narrator Wayne Forester is superb. Not only does he take on the voices of disparate characters with practiced ease, he also manages it so seamlessly and immediately that it seems as though there must be two speakers. Twilight readers and others who like to be frightened should enjoy this Carnegie Medal and Guardian Award winner. --Mary Purucker,

From the Back Cover

The flowery owl pattern on the old dinner service, which Gwyn finds in a loft, obsesses Alison. Its discovery marks the start of an extraordinary chain of events that affect not only Gwyn and Alison, but also her stepbrother, Roger. For there's a power stirring in the remote valley that dates from a sad and distant myth – a tragic Welsh legend that has begun to repeat itself. Gwyn tries to shake off his involvement by running away, but he cannot escape, and, as the tension mounts, he is made to realise that only by facing up to the myth can it be resolved.

'The Owl Service' won both The Carnegie Medal and The Guardian Award.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
When I read this in my early teens, I don't think I even vaguely understood it, but somehow it clawed its way under my skin and stayed there. I returned to it, ahem, quite a few years later, to find it a fascinating portrait of taut family dynamics (children adjusting to 'new' family structures), unspoken rivalries and generally the horrible hormonal tensions of adolescent change. It wasn't about owls at all!
It's a stunning, sparsely written and fast-paced read, underscored with a creepy, scary atmosphere that could well put you off family holidays in Wales for ever.
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By Gregory S. Buzwell VINE VOICE on 1 Jan. 2007
Format: Paperback
Some books go beyond being mere stories, tales with which to while away the hours, and become far more central within one's life. The Owl Service, which I first read at the age of about ten, is one such book for me. In my youth I was only concerned with the story of Alison, Gwyn and Roger and how the mythical past of a Welsh legend was reaching out to play itself out once again in the present day world, but with each successive reading, and there have been several, new meanings and layers of thought have revealed themselves. Around the age old tale of rivalries in love Garner has managed to weave comments on class (for example Gwyn's attempts to conform and lose his working-class Welsh roots, which he sees as a hinderance, are set against Roger's smug superiority, safe in his comfortable position as heir to the family firm); ambition (how far do we set our own parameters for what we can achieve, simply by settling for what is expected for us rather than holding out for what we really want) and the way the events of the real, everyday world run parallel with a much older world of imagination, myth and legend.

I probably discovered more about the possibilities of well-written fiction from this book than I did from any other. There are beautiful, haunting, descriptions such as Gwyn's nocturnal walk through the wood, spooked by phantom flames which he unconvincingly tries to reason away as marsh gas; there are moments of intense drama such as the attempt to escape from the valley during a torrential downpour and there are beautifully deft character descriptions: Gwyn's mother Nancy's fear and panic as she sees the past inevitably reaching out to the present for example, or the way Alison unknowingly plays the coquette.
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Format: Paperback
Two English teenagers, Alison and Roger, have been brought to a quiet Welsh valley by Roger’s father Clive and Alison’s mother (who remains offstage throughout the novel and interestingly, becomes one of those characters of whom we can only draw a picture from the conversations of others) to stay for the summer in a house which once belonged to Alison’s Uncle Bertram.
The house is also home to the mad gardener Huw, the surly and possessive housekeeper Nancy and her ambitious son, Gwyn.
It’s an impressive novel originally intended for a juvenile readership but, as these things tend to do, ended up being just as popular with adults.
The style is fast-paced, sparse, and doesn’t patronise the reader with pages, or even paragraphs of scene-setting. The reader learns all they need to know from the action, the language and the conversations. The name of the valley is never mentioned, nor even the village, yet within a few pages we are able to find our feet and things immediately start getting weird.
Alison, ill in bed seemingly with stomach-ache, is plagued by scratching noises from the attic above. Gwyn, sent to investigate, discovers only a dinner-service with a complex floral design around the edge of each piece.
Alison discovers that when she traces the design and cuts it out, elements of it can be folded to produce the stylised body of an owl.
The paper owls disappear as she creates them, and with them, the design from beneath the glaze of the plates.
It transpires that an ancient power is still bound by the valley and an emotional and physical triangle is repeating itself down through the ages, finding candidates in each generation to re-enact an old drama in order to release the power stored in the valley.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book to my children (8 & 10) and they found it wierd and confusing. The writing is almost deliberately obscure (which I hate in any book) and it's often not clear what's going on - until you read on in the story. Having to frequently re-read parts of the story was not helped by the copy of the book I have having page 180 repeated as page 182 and with page 182 missing altogether! Rather than the Amazon suggested 9-11 age range, I would recommend this book for teenagers, particularly as it deals with adolescents who are confused about their own identity and how they fit into (1960s) society and sketches a story that leaves a great deal to the reader's own imagination. The surreal ending is particularly difficult for younger children to appreciate. Having said all that, I enjoyed the book and would certainly recommed it as a challenging read for older children.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"...why didn't you cut the pattern into flowers from the start, you silly girl?" Roger asks his step sister at the end... because we wouldn't have been given this gloriously enjoyable story if she had.

This was a re-reading of the book after having seen the actual Owl Service finder plate at the recent Magical Books expedition at Oxford Bodleian Library. After being disappointed Brett my re-reading of two of Alan Garner's books earlier this year, I was a bit apprehensive about this one. I needn't have worried. Despite being set in the 60s this book is as current and as fresh as ever. Even the references to film photography and home processing don't age it.

It's a story that involves a dysfunctional family and their housekeeper and her son who know more about the secret that lies in the Welsh valley than they ought. It's a classic tale, from an old Welsh myth, worth reading.
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