The Owl Service

Alan Garner’s Carnegie medal-winning The Owl Service (1967) reimagines the Welsh legend of the flower maiden Blodeuedd which forms one of the four Branches of ‘The Mabinogion’ as preserved in the mediaeval White Book of Rhydderch and Red Book of Hergest.

The original story tells how a wizard conjures a woman made out of blossom to be the wife of Lleu Llaw Gyffes and how she is punished by being turned into an owl when she takes a lover, who is magically killed by her husband.

In Garner’s novel the tale is re-enacted by three modern teenagers after they find an old dinner service decorated with an abstract design of owls and flowers. The girl, Alison, compulsively traces and cuts out the owl patterns, thus releasing centuries’-old forces of jealousy and betrayal.

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