Alan Garner Margaret Meek - Essay

Margaret Meek

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Around [the children in The Owl Service], growing out of the wild countryside, its heroic ancient legends and its recent grim past, is woven a fantasy as moving as any in the tradition of imaginative literature. For younger readers the plot is a sequence of curious happenings consequent upon the finding in the loft of dinner plates with an owl pattern. A mystery, an historical fable, the interacting of past and present and a grim, tragic element involving the relationship of parents and children evoke in older readers the deepest responses of which they are capable and point to the superficialities of current formula fiction. Mr. Garner's chosen style is a balance of elliptical conversation and poetic imagery. The bones of the narrative are taut as steel wire and contain the suspense to the end. My reservations about the climax and a number of unsorted details are not enough to throw in against my appreciation of the imaginative power…. I think this is a book for young adults, because, on one level, it is about the loss of innocence, which comes to them as both a tragedy and a relief. This book adds a new dimension to 'the adolescent novel'.

Margaret Meek, "Literature: 'The Owl Service'," in The School Librarian and School Library Review, Vol. 15, No. 3, December, 1967, p. 327.