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Ogre Enchanted

Review

Ogre Enchanted

Imagine you're hanging out with your best friend, having a normal day, enjoying each other’s company. Then imagine that a fairy appears and demands that your friend “speak his mind.” Imagine he asks you to marry him. You refuse, because, even though he’s a wonderful friend, you're not in love with him. Now, imagine the fairy is a little bit unhinged and, in a fit of anger, casts a terrible spell on you.

Now imagine you’re an ogre.

"OGRE ENCHANTED...combines the fantastical creatures and themes of a fairy tale with incredibly believable characters. Levine’s skill lies not only in her vibrant storytelling but in her ability to create delightfully human characters..."

This is what befalls poor Evie, a young healer in the fictional city of Jenn in the kingdom of Kyrria. Her best friend, Wormy, is disappointed by her refusal but not enraged like Lucinda the fairy. In a flash, Evie’s life as she knows it is over --- no more treating the sick and wounded, no more passing pleasant days with her mother and Wormy, no more wandering freely around town. Lucinda has transformed Evie into an ogre, a feared and hated monster. Evie feels her ogre self and her human self warring within her. Human Evie remembers the taste of peaches; Ogre Evie is revolted by them and craves only meat and, to her horror, human flesh. Human Evie still wants to help anyone ill or injured; Ogre Evie uses her innate powers of persuasion to sense the emotions of those around her and bend them to her will so she can eat them. Evie feels her two selves constantly battling each other, and wonders if she will be a hairy, toothy, smelly ogre forever. 

A glimmer of hope remains: Lucinda’s curse can be reversed only if someone else proposes to Evie within 62 days. But the spell prevents Evie from telling anyone what has happened to her. She must find someone willing to marry an ogre. If 62 days pass without a proposal, Evie will remain an ogre forever. 

Determined to lift the curse, Evie sets out alone to find other ogres. She hopes she can learn the art of persuasion from them and charm someone into marrying her. Evie’s journey will take her to the distant corners of the kingdom, from the ogres’ lair to the realm of dragons, from a country estate to the royal palace. Mistress Ogre, as she is called, will play a part in the tumultuous events that see kings fall and secret heirs unveiled. Her story will become the story of the kingdom and ultimately shape the future of Kyrria.

As a child, ELLA ENCHANTED was one of my most treasured books, so I was thrilled when I heard that author Gail Carson Levine was publishing a companion novel. OGRE ENCHANTED did not disappoint. It was a pleasure to return to Kyrria, land of ogres and giants, betrayal and true love, and the meddling fairy Lucinda. Fans of ELLA ENCHANTED will love finding small connections between the two stories and learning what happened before Ella was born and given her dreadful curse (apparently Lucinda has been bestowing “gifts” for generations). Familiar faces emerge from the story in unexpected places, mingling with new characters that are just as funny, flawed, and compelling as those in ELLA. At its heart OGRE ENCHANTED is a story of redemption, of finding your humanity and clinging to it at all costs. Despite their being an ogre’s preferred food, Evie manages to never eat a single human no matter how delectable they smell. 

If you loved ELLA ENCHANTED, this new chapter in the story will delight you, and it is poised to enchant a new generation of readers. Although decades have passed since ELLA was published, OGRE ENCHANTED transports readers right back to the same world. While the first novel puts a spin on an old, familiar story, OGRE ENCHANTED dives into an entirely original narrative. Although it lacks some of the finesse of ELLA, OGRE ENCHANTED succeeds because it combines the fantastical creatures and themes of a fairy tale with incredibly believable characters. Levine’s skill lies not only in her vibrant storytelling but in her ability to create delightfully human characters --- even if they happen to be ogres.

Reviewed by Rebecca Hawkins on November 29, 2018

Ogre Enchanted
by Gail Carson Levine