Winning Year: 1967
Author: Alan Garner
Title: The Owl Service

Original Publisher: Collins
Current Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780007127894
In Print

"Something was stirring in the valley, something powerful and old. Something which had no place in the rational modern world." Gwyn heard noise behind him, and he turned. A lump of pebble-dash had come off the wall, and another fell, and in their place on the wall two eyes were watching him. The hot summer days were filled with an oppressiveness that the heat alone could not explain. Alison, Gwyn and Roger could feel it, but only Huw could really understand it. And as the inevitable confrontations between present and past drew nearer, Gwyn alone seemed strong enough to stall the disaster that hung over them all.

Reader Development Pack (PDF)

class conflict mythology relationships welsh folklore


Alan Garner was born in Congleton in Cheshire in October 1934. He was brought up on Alderley and now lives with his wife and family in a mediaeval timber-framed house near the Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope, between Congleton and Alderley. He says in his published biography that, while his ancestors on his father's side were skilled and steady people, his mother's side were "gifted cranks".

Alan Garner was educated at Alderley Edge Primary School, Manchester Grammar School, did two years National Service and then went to Magdalen College, Oxford. He left Oxford knowing that he had to be a writer and not a teacher as he had originally intended.

Cheshire and its mythology have had a profound effect on Garner's writing. His interest in history and archaeology, and his own local discoveries, have been the seed of many ideas he has worked out in his books.




I first read this book in the seventies when i was fifteen.i have never forgotten it. It is a wonderful book with a weired and magical story line. The characters are carefully sculptured and come alive.the clever imagery reflects the conflicts berween good and evil.the tv serial was brilliant.

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Remember those weird 70s tv serials for teens; heavy on dialogue, everybody spoke in a theatrical way; you didn't really understand the story but it scared the willies out of you? this book became such a series and reads like one. 3 modern teens in wales are caught up in a myth from the mabinogion.

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Sue Allonby


I first read this novel aged 11, when i found it quite difficult, but compelling. I've since re-read it about once every five years, and each time find something new. Many-layered, it deals with conflict between old/young, welsh/english, peace/violence. It's stayed with me for nearly forty years.

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