Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Ogre of Oglefort

I have read a couple (and reviewed one) of Eva Ibbotson's historical romances, but had never read one of her MG fantasies until now. The Ogre of Oglefort was the last fantasy Ibbotson wrote prior to her death in 2010. After reading it I'm very interested in her other such works, particularly as I have a daughter who would gobble them up like chocolate I think. (The copy of Ogre is already in her excited hands.) This book has all kinds of kiddie appeal.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
For excitement-hungry orphan Ivo, a mission to save Princess Mirella from the dreaded Ogre of Oglefort is a dream come true. Together with a hag, a wizard, and a troll, Ivo sets out, ready for adventure. But when they get to the ogre's castle, the rescuers are in for a surprise: the princess doesn't need saving, but the depressed ogre does! 

The book starts out with a witch needing a familiar because hers has gone on strike. Orphan Ivo volunteers and finds himself on an adventure of a lifetime. The Princess Mirella wants to live with animals and enjoy the outdoors but her parents want her betrothed to a smarmy prince from a neighboring country so she takes matters into her own hands. Ivo and Mirella are engaging young characters but the book is just as much about the witch, wizard, troll and ogre as it is about them. They are a quirky and delightful cast. None of them are explored in depth and there is not much development of relationships in the story. The narrator mostly tells the reader what everyone is doing and how they are getting on, but I think the intended audience would love them all and the crazy antics they get into.

The plot here is all kinds of fun, with several irreverent twists on old story tropes. The Norn (fates) make an appearance as senile old women who aren't so good at their job anymore. There are several helpful not-quite-as-they-seem animals, a battle involving thrown furniture, and an ingenuous solution to a haunting. Like I said, loads of kid appeal. I quite enjoyed it myself (more than I enjoyed Ibbotson's historical fantasies for sure).

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