The Owl Service by Alan Garner

Genre: Fiction | Fantasy | Young Adult | Children’s | Mythology

Pages: 224

Goodreads         Amazon UK

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.


“She wants to be flowers, but you make her owls. You must not complain, then, if she goes hunting.”


“I wanted us to have a holiday, not a ruddy breakdown.”


“That man’s gaga,” said Roger when they were out of hearing. “He’s so far gone he’s coming back.”

Alan Garner, The Owl Service

I had no idea what to expect from this book. It was described to me as a children’s book, and at 224 pages I guess I expected that it was going to be a quick, easy read. Wrong!

I would have expected to finish this book in one sitting.. two at the most, but it just did not hold my attention. Whilst reading I would find myself drifting off, thinking about other things, or simply falling asleep.

There were a lot of bizarre events happening in this book which fell into the genre of fantasy.. Events that you would not expect to happen in a million years, however each characters reaction to such events were not realistic, as if it was quite ordinary to hear scratching noises coming from your attic, and objects flying across the room happened on a daily basis. And speaking of characters, there was not a one that I felt I could relate to, or felt even a slight connection to. I didn’t find any of them likeable.

Set in Wales, however not living far from it myself, I found the dialect hard to follow, which made it an uncomfortable read. As for being listed as a children’s book, I have no idea what age range they are classing ‘children’s book’ as, but I find it hard to believe that this book would appeal to anyone below the age of 14.

At the end of the book, the author mentioned that this book became a classic. Personally I had never heard of it until coming across it in a discussion on Goodreads. I’m not writer myself, but I don’t feel that anything exceptional happened, nor any message told through the story to make it a classic. The author also mentioned that the book had also been made into a television series. Maybe that would be worth watching to see if it helps to make any sense of this book, but I won’t be rushing into it.

For the lack of relatable characters, lack of major events happening and the fact that this book struggled to hold my attention for more than five minutes, it gets just one heart from me.