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Publisher's Summary

After hearing scratches in the attic, Alison discovers a dinner service covered in an intriguing floral owl pattern, and a series of events are set in motion that will change her life forever. Alison, her step-brother Roger, and Welsh boy Gwyn are forced into a cyclical replay of the tragic Welsh legend of Blodeuwedd, in which a woman is turned into an owl as a punishment for betraying her husband.

The Owl Service is a fabulous, multi-layered book of mystery and suspense, but also a contemporary musing on love, class structure and power.

©2008 Naxos Audiobooks (P)2008 Naxos Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Garner's remarkable writing is simple and straighforward without one wasted word. He lets the audience figure things out through action and dialogue. Characters are well defined. 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." (SoundComentary.com)

What listeners say about The Owl Service

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Chapter 17 is completely missing from recording

Would you try another book from Alan Garner and/or Wayne Forester?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

The performance of this book is very good, but the apparently accidental omission of an entire chapter is inexcusable. Chapter 17 is short but contains key exposition, and the rest of the book is confusing in its absence. If you purchase this audiobook, you should have a print copy handy if you don't want to be confused by the missing chapter.

14 people found this helpful

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For Anyone Who Loves Myth

Garner has thought deeply about myth, but instead of producing a commentary, he has written a novel, thrilling and wise, that links Welsh legend to teen angst and the gulf of adult worry that gapes before the young. This book is never straightforward in how it treats the old stories, but it never loses its way as it guides you deep into the feelings of its characters. A good example of a "kids" book that dares to do things few "adult" books could pull off.

This is a top-quality recording. The reader paints the characters well, and has complete command over the various Welsh and English voices the story calls for.

6 people found this helpful

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  • HB
  • 08-06-20

missing chapters!

disjointed because a few chapters were omitted. There really wasn't a benefit to skipping over these.

4 people found this helpful

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Great story, excellent narrator, but...

I loved this story, and I think anyone who likes Welsh myth would enjoy it. I also thought the narrator was very good; he is especially excellent with dialogue and character voices - never any question who was speaking.

The only caveat has been mentioned in other reviews - chapter 17 is completely missing, and unless there's some confusion in numbering chapter 13 isn't there either. It should not be considered unabridged, and the missing bits are much too crucial to the story to have been left out. I still recommend this wonderful story, but purchase the book and read along or you may find yourself a bit lost.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous
  • 11-02-10

About this book

This is one of the best books by him, and my favourite.
It is based on one of the old Welsh stories, it is defiantly for older listeners, due to its deep and complex narrative. I hilly recommend it, it will leave you thinking about it for a long time after you finish it. Also it?s been made into a good TV series a long time ago, for thaws of you who really like it.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 09-29-20

The greatest folk horror story ever written

I first read this when I was 10 and it has stuck with me for fifty years. I have read it twice since but having it read to me, I came across parts I hadn't noticed before. The reasons is pretty faultless and differs only slightly from the way I have read passages from it to school kids over the years. The language is very suited to reading out loud as it has a musical quality. Themes of class, jealousy and folk memory build to a brilliant climax. Just listen to it. It's folk horror with a satisfactory ending.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Clare T
  • 03-23-22

missing chapters, had to buy physical copy

lovely book but got to chaper 13 and it wasn't there and skipped ahead to find another missing. stopped listening at that point as it got confusing.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mr Thomas W Doig
  • 02-03-22

Struggled to follow the flow

The story doesn’t flow easily or make a huge amount of sense. Weaving myths into contemporary stories is a gift of the authors, but this one doesn’t hit the mark for me

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-12-22

Weird but wonderful

I am a kid so you might think I didn’t understand much of it but this is a great book and I did understand it. Yes, it was a little confusing at times and there are chapters missing but overall it is a great mystical book that draws you in. I am a big bookworm so I read a lot but having this read to me I think made me understand it better. I would recommend this book to any child or adult who was great at reading but loved having stuff read to them too. I hope everyone who reads it enjoys it just as much as people who listen to it. This is a great book with dark, bright, sad and happy parts in it and even though there are chapters missing people can still enjoy it so I hope everyone does enjoy it and has fun reading it too!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Edward Layer
  • 12-07-21

Missing Chapters

I loved this story so much. But Chapters 13 and 17 were missing. I had to buy the book to read them.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-13-21

Why the OWL SERVICE IS SO MUCH MORE THAN A CHILDREN’S BOOK

This is a book I read when it was published as a teenager. With listening again I realise it has a message to impart. Your perception may well influence outcomes. Glass half empty or half full? Do you take a positive or negative view of life and what happens as a result? Alan Garner’s books are all worth a reread..or in this case a listen, a master craftsman and story teller.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Andrew
  • 09-15-21

A Brilliant Reading

Without a doubt, this is one of the most important works in UK literature and Alan Garner is second to none in his masterful approach to complex narratives and the mixing of disparate themes. An absolute joy to listen to. Great to revisit.

1 person found this helpful

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  • SjC
  • 08-19-20

A Second Rate version of a First Rate Story

This is one of my all time favorite stories, it's beautiful and thrilling and scary and I love it.
This isn't the best version I've ever herd (that's the version read by Robert Powell) but it's servable and the story is still great.

If you don't know the story and fancy giving it a go, one word of warning the book doesn't hold your hand it has a non-liner style expects you to pay attention and fill in the blanks yourself. But it's totally worth it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Dave
  • 10-26-18

Masterful storytelling. Brilliant conclusion.

The story deals with issues that cause eternal strife in our lives. Pain turning love to hatred. Class and parental ambition are also key themes. Cleverly, the most influential parent, never features directly in the narrative.
The triumphant conclusion, that breaks a multi generational cycle of destruction, is pure wisdom for real life.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Michael
  • 03-09-22

I really enjoyed this

After they find a mysterious set of owl patterned plates hidden in their attic, three 1960s teenagers (two upper middle class English, one working class Welsh) find themselves caught up in a Welsh legend of a fatal love triangle which keeps repeating itself every generation.

Alan Garner is known for his skill in writing realistic characters, dialogue and social situations intertwined with myths come to life.

The narrator is good and knows how to do Welsh accents and pronounce Welsh names.

I really enjoyed it :-)

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 10-28-21

Excellent narration of an old favourite

I devoured this book in my teens, and re-read it many times. It remains an outstanding example of how to write powerfully with precision and economy. This reading brought out a lot of details and made clear many connections that I didn't notice on my own reading.

Other reviewers mentioned that the audio book was incomplete; this issue appears to have been resolved.