[Book Review] The Owl Service by Alan Garner

the owl service

The Owl Service by Alan Garner is an modern day ghost story. The novel follows three children as they discover a dinner service found in an attic and unravels a story as ancient as the mountains about revenge.

Taking elements from the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi, Alan Garner weaves a tale of these children as they learn more about their place in the Welsh country side, where they belong and the history of the Valleys.

The novel is interesting in its uses of the Fourth Branch. Garner takes the Fourth Branch, and uses it’s to its own advantage. I wrote ghost story earlier, and that remains to be true, but it is not a ghost story in the typical fashion, it’s a ghost story in the way that the past comes back to haunt you. Starting from the dinner service, to the murals, to the owls, Garner weaves a tale that not only captures the myth, but also reinvents the myth.

The novels light writing style allows for a quick read, but delivers in Garners vast knowledge of the myth and the Welsh countryside. It is an exciting story from beginning to end, and despite having read the Mabinogi since childhood, I was still left guessing as to what the conclusion to the novel was going to be.

I enjoyed reading this book, it’s an exciting take on an old story.

Have you read The Owl Service? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

 

[Book Review] The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit

The Hobbit is a pinnacle in the fantasy genre, the eponymous book that came before.

I read this book many years ago. It was actually one of my first books when I was first becoming the reading person I am today.

The Hobbit is a fun book, detailing the adventure of Bilbo Baggins as he treks across Middle Earth to burgle for Thorin and his companions. On this journey, Bilbo learns to overcome adversity and makes friends. He makes new discoveries and learns that sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone can lead to new adventures.

J.R.R. Tolkien has a way with words and creating worlds, and it shines through in this instalment. The characters are diverse, and despite this novel not being as heavy as it’s successor The Lord of the RingsThe Hobbit has a more fun approach to story telling, woven together by Tolkien’s words and songs throughout.

Overall, I enjoyed rereading The Hobbit. It’s immersive and wonder building leads through many alleys of Middle Earth, and is a great read for all readers.

What do you think of The Hobbit? Let me know in the comments!

[Book Discussion] Whistle In The Dark by Emma Healey

Emma Healey’s Whistle in the Dark is a thriller about a young girl called Lana who goes missing for four days but claims she doesn’t remember what happened to her. Her mother is convinced something happened during her time away and will stop at nothing to find out what that was.

At the heart of it, Whistle in the Dark is a tale of a mother in search for answers. It deals with frustration, grief, loss, happiness. As the story unfolds we learn more and more about the family, we learn more about Lana and her struggles, we learn about Jen’s struggles and the way the family is coping.

The thing I liked the most about this book was the characterisation. The characters were relatable, and I could understand the story from both points. Jen’s struggles were especially poignant, her feelings of self-worth, her loss and her struggle to understand were all feelings I feel like we’ve experienced in our lifetime. It was hard to read how much she cared, but was afraid of showing it. It was hard to read how much she was trying, but then Lana was struggling, too. It is a story about learning to communicate at its heart.

The plot of the story moved really well, and the writing really gripped me. I was hooked from start to finish and constantly curious as to what had happened. The way the novel ended was both harrowing and not what I had expected.

In short, I enjoyed the novel. I thought it was exciting and gripping!

What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

[Book Review] Release by Patrick Ness

Patrick Ness has always had a way with words and infusing reality with the unreal. This is clearly shown through Release.

Release is a bildungsroman of sorts. It takes place over one day, and follows one boy called Adam Thorn as he navigates friendships, love, relationships and coming out to his parents.

The other half of the story follows Katie, or Queen as she wanders after she wakes up from her murder.

Ness builds a relationship with his characters, and his writing style flows through the day, only giving you the information you need to know. Not all the plot points are cleared, but it never leaves you frustrated with this. It’s a simple look into the way that the teens are growing up.

The other half of the story deals with vengeance and retribution, told in parallel to Adam Thorn’s story. I did not really understand how the two stories would intertwine until the end of the novel, but thematically, the two halves of the story blend well. One deals with the desperation and the need for vengeance, the other deals with the act of growing up and realising that you need the help from others, and learning where your family lies.

Both sides of the story are truly heartbreaking.

Despite not being an intricately written tale, or a tale where there is a lot of guess work and wondering how things will end. Personally, I would recommend Release, it is insightful, and a pleasant read.

[Book Review] The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a well reviewed and well received novel already. First published in 1985, Atwood’s novel has continued to be at the forefront of fiction and feminism since it’s release.

The novel has gained a new interest with the release of the television series with the same name, and it’s readership and understanding continues to grow.

I am one of the readers who’d heard so much about the novel, but had never sat down to read it. I saw the television series and wanted to read it, and I have now finally managed to complete it.

The Handmaid’s Tale was everything I thought it was going to be. The narrative of the story is interesting, it’s written as if the narrator is talking to you through the story. She guides you through the story with an eloquence one can only achieve through the subconscious.

I personally enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale, it brought up a lot to think about. The tale talks of love, loss, grief, rebellion and many others. The novel is open-ended and doesn’t really draw to any conclusion and only briefly mentions how things came to be the way they were. For me, this was both a positive and a negative, as I so badly wanted to know how this dystopian future even came about, but it also made it feel real. The narrator spoke to you as if you knew how these events happened, and maybe how they ended.

That was both infuriating (in an I really need to know kind of way), and pleasant.

Overall, I enjoyed the novel. The writing flowed well, and talked about some really interesting things that relate scarily to what is happening in our modern times, despite being over thirty years old, and in a dystopian setting.

Would I recommend the book? Yes. Definitely. It would be interesting to discuss with people what they thought of the novel, and what they thought as I know that opinions on this novel vary greatly.

[Halfway Review] The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I’m officially now over half way through the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and so far I’m finding the book really intriguing.

At first I was reading and comparing the book to the TV series that was released last year, but once I’ve gotten past the similarities and differences, I’m finding I’m enjoying a lot a more.

Margaret Atwood has a rather unusual style of writing, which is seen in this novel, in particular with the sections where characters are talking, but there is no markings in the writing to indicate that they are talking. This is interesting to me, as from a narratological perspective, and the idea of the narrator being a storyteller, it plays more with the sense of the subconscious speech. It’s people speaking, but they are speaking through her.

So far it’s rather interesting!

Have you read the Handmaid’s Tale? What’s your views on the first half of the novel?

 

Don’t forget you can vote in our poll for next month! Currently, Practical Magic is winning with two votes! You can find the poll here.

[Book Review] I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll

I Am Watching You is an intense thriller by Teresa Driscoll. It asks all the right questions, and keeps you puzzling throughout.

The story focuses on the disappearance of a young girl named Anna Ballard who goes missing after a night out with her friend in London. The story subsequently takes place a year later, and deals with themes such as grief and guilt and the effect her disappearance has on everyone, ranging from family to friends to witnesses.

Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It kept me reading and reading and wanting to know what happened, who had done what and why. Without spoiling for anyone who has perhaps not read this book, I did not see the ending and was thoroughly surprised. Maybe I should up my thriller reading game?

Teresa Driscoll is a captivating writer, and perfectly balanced the interwoven lines of the characters and gave each character their own substance and backstory.

It was a nice read, and would recommend it to others (and have done already!)

What did you think?

If you want to join in on my book club, we’re taking our first months suggestions here!