THE BLOG

The Best Owls in Literature

04/12/2013 13:47 GMT | Updated 03/02/2014 10:59 GMT

On Monday Amazon announced it would be experimenting with drone delivered parcels by 2015, assuming they haven't had all their mad scientists confiscated in lieu of the back taxes they're still refusing to pay.

Today Waterstones has taken a pop at the online retailer via the medium of owls; the biggest bookseller in the UK will soon be delivering books via owl. As a member of the Harry Potter generation, forever doomed to wait for that illusive owl from Hogwarts, and an ex-Waterstones employee this plan captures both my imagination and my heart.

Now seems the perfect time to look at the relationship between owls and literature, from the sweetly befuddled Wol in Winnie the Pooh to the flesh hungry killers of Titus Groan.

The Cry of the Owl by Patricia Highsmith

Written in 1962 The Cry of the Owl follows newly divorced Robert Forester as he stalks and then is stalked by young Jenny Thierolf. Throughout the book Jenny associates the cry of the owl with the bringing of death and as her jilted fiance gets wind of her obsession with Robert a suitable number of bodies start piling up.

The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland

A group of nuns, stay with me, sets up outside a country village in the unspecified dark ages. They are soon warned of the legendary forest dwelling Owl Killers and as the village succumbs to a flood of biblical proportions it becomes clear that the mythical Owl Killers are very, very angry. Maitland's terrifying novel leaves every character at the mercy of their own desires and the Owl Killers attention.

Titus Groan by Melvin Peake

The Tower of Flints, surrounded by a hoard of screeching owls and sat atop the sinister castle of Gormenghast, casts a very long shadow over Peake's tale of revenge. As the warring factions within Gormenghast do battle the owls circle the tower and occasionally swoop down to feed on the flesh of their latest victim.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling

Harry Potter fan's obsession with owls has already been tearfully eluded to. When Harry received his invitation to Hogwarts and is introduced to Hedwig the owl a new friendship and franchise was born. Hedwig went on to act as Harry's loyal friend and postman while hoards of jealous readers coveted their own owls.

Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne

Owl is the wisest creature in The Hundred Acre Wood, despite sometimes getting a bit mixed up and spelling his own name "Wol". He was the only one of AA Milne's creations not based on a soft toy and so looked a bit more lifelike than Pooh, Piglet and Eeyore. As a possible proxy for his creator Owl is sometimes grumpy but always willing to assist a philosophical bear.

I've ended on a high note with good ol' Wol but if you're feeling a little unnerved by all the harbingers of doom mentioned so far please allow me to refer you to a list of adorable owls who just want to deliver you presents and be your best friend.