A few years ago there was a movie out in the theatres called “Legend of the Guardians.” I never saw it, but I remember the previews showing some very well-animated talking owls. Owls were very trendy at the time, and still remain so to this day. That movie was based on this series, books one through three. I chose this as an audiobook, and I just completed The Capture, which is book one. Having never seen the movie, I was thinking this was a kid’s movie with some cute owls who had some adventures. Well, the books are much darker than that. Although the owls are cute, and the narrator voices them with squeaky high-pitched intonations, the situations they find themselves in are anything but cute. In fact, I would advise against giving this series to a kid younger than fourth and fifth grade. Owls fight, owls die. There are somber moments and heartbreaking moments. And some levity.
The story begins with barn owl, Soren, being pushed from his nest and captured by the sinister owls of St. Aggie’s, which is a mysterious place with an uncertain purpose. The owls that run the “school for orphans” are intent on brainwashing every young owlet they bring into the academy. Soren and his friend, Gylphie, whom he meets when he is captured, slowly figure out that something isn’t right about the place and avoid the “moonblinking” (aka brainwashing) that their fellow captives are under.
What’s happening at the Academy is very strange, and slightly disturbing. Like I said, this isn’t a kid’s book…
A word about the audio version: the woman reading the story aloud is from the UK. I find myself repeating some of the phrases from the book in her accent, such as “are you YOINKS?” (Picture a slightly more high-pitched Emma Watson as Hermione Granger saying this to Harry or Ron.) Some of the voices she does, mostly Gylfie, are fairly annoying. And the SONGS! I want to skip every song that she does. They are mostly all tuneless, unremarkable songs.
However, I am curious to see what happens next with Soren and his friends. So I will continue on with the audiobook and endure some of the things that irritate me. We’ll see how I feel after book two!