Welcome to our Anniversary Blog by resident blogger Jake Hope. Jake will be reading and reviewing all of the past CILIP Carnegie Medal winning books during the anniversary year. We are also asking shadowers to "Adopt a Book" and join in reading and discussing the anniversary titles in their shadowing groups.

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"Roger brushed the feathers away from Alison. They circled and clung: circled and clung: the owl dance he had found in the dust. They were moving on the ceiling and the walls, and he began to see the patterns that had followed Huw in the rain: eyes and wings and sharpness: winged eyes, yellow, and blackness curved: all in the rafters and the wall and the feathers everywhere. There had never been so many feathers."

The Owl Service

Carnegie winner: 1967
Author: Alan Garner

Throughout our lives, there are decisions we can make about the people we become, the responses and actions we take. Likewise some of our decisions are able to influence the way others perceive and interact with us. As we develop, grow and progress through adolescence, our characters can start to become more pronounced and defined. This can be empowering, opening numerous opportunities, but it can also lead to the gradual closure of other possibilities. This becomes the powerful and charged backdrop to The Owl Service which draws upon the lore of the Blodeuwedd from the Mabinogion, an historic collection of folkloric stories told in Middle Welsh, to create a frame against which the lives of Roger, Alison and Gwyn's lives are played out as they re-enact and find themselves under the influence of shift and changes... 


There is a force behind the writing which, in spite of being spare makes a deep and lasting impression both through the minimalist but highly effective landscape and setting of the novel and the malignantly oppressive atmosphere. The interplay between the myth of Blodeuwedd, a woman created from flowers and punished to become an owl for her betrayal, and Alison who hears a continual scratching in the attic above her story.  When an old dinner service is uncovered in the attic, depicting either owls or flowers depending upon one’s sense of perspective, an ancient power is brought into being.  Pulsating arterial energy courses through the novel elevating the rites of passage for its three lead characters into something infinitely more dark, where the stakes are far higher. The potency of legend and its universal themes feed into a remarkable story of tradition and transition.

Drawing on the power of ancient mythology and highlighting the ways their issues and preoccupations exert remarkable power and relevance over our everyday lives, this is both a captivating rites of passage and a novel that showcases the power of storytelling and stories in helping to shape and determine our lives.


class / conflict / mythology / relationships / welsh folklore /


Why we chose this book ...

"This book left a long lasting impression on me many many years ago! It has a fantastically creepy air of menace from the start that I know my current book club members will appreciate. They all seem to like the dark side!"