Detail of a miniature of an owl being mobbed by other birds; from a bestiary, England, 2nd quarter of the 13th century, Harley MS 4751, f. 47r from the British Library's collection.

Today we think of owls as symbols of wisdom, but during the Middle Ages owls were considered bad omens, sinister because of their nocturnal habits.  Some people even supposed owls flew backwards, according to the British Library’s blog article, Bad New Birds.  Inspired by the illuminations and text in that article, I wrote the following passage for my novel, showing how one of the villains associates herself with the owl.

“Nimble as a dark wolf, Lady Charise remounted. She had but an hour before the castle awoke and perhaps another before she was missed, so she kicked her fresh steed into a gallop to put as much distance behind her before pursuers came. Her swift bay courser stretched out like an owl in flight over the hunting trail. Owls were said to be omens of evil, flying backwards by night, snatching their prey in the stygian gloom. Some even wore horns like the devil. But Charise had always thought owls were beautiful. Shrewd as a wild night huntress, she rode west, away from the rising sun.”

Owls as Omens of Evil