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The Ogre of Oglefort Audio CD – Audiobook, May 7, 2010
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In a world where both normal humans and magical creatures live side by side, a rag tag group of fantasy folk, including a hag, a troll, and a wizard, are enlisted to save a young princess from a fearsome ogre. With the help of an orphan boy who becomes the hag's familiar, the group makes their way to the ogre's castle, only to find out the situation is nothing like they expected. Turns out the ogre just wants to be left alone and die in peace, and the princess DOESN'T want to be rescued. She'd rather have the ogre turn her into a bird so she can escape an arranged marriage. With the truth of the situation revealed, our heroes must now work to fix up the dilapidated castle and clear up the misunderstanding before an invading army arrives to destroy the new home and family they've created for themselves.
With a synopsis like that, you'd think this plot would be some big, fantasy epic, but the reality is that the story is much more calm and laid back as our heroes slowly fix up the ogre's crumbling castle--building better lives for themselves in the process. All of the characters are a fun bunch and, for the most part, play completely against type. The hag has lost her magic touch, but gains it back when she gains the orphan as her new Familiar. Ivo is sweet and kind, and will do anything to protect the people he comes to see as family, no matter how weird they are. The wizard thoroughly stinks at casting magic, and would rather be a chef, and though the troll doesn't get as much "screen time" as the rest, he's an old, kind soul who loves gardening and tending the forest.
As for the princess, she starts off as a bit of a brat, but considering her unconventional hobbies, her distaste of fancy things, and the way her haughty family treats her, it's easy to understand why Mirella acts the way she does. And the more she makes a new life for herself at the castle, the more she opens up and finds herself overjoyed at being able to be herself with her new adoptive family. As for the titular ogre? Well, he's about as overly melodramatic as one can get; always wining about his problems and barely lifting a finger to help the new residents of his home. He remains an annoyance through most of the book, but even he gradually comes around in the end, and by finding a new heir to the castle, he just may help everyone get exactly what they want.
And the world that's set up here is most definitely a cartoonish fantasy. No explanation is given for why this world is the way it is--you just accept it as fact. Realism is mixed in with characters that are cartoonishly over the top in personality. However, considering this book was written many years ago, there's more than a few words that either aren't used now a days, or they have completely different meanings, so parents should either screen this ahead of time before giving this to their kids, or alter a few of the words as they read it. (Although, considering some of the creepy imagery, I'd recommend this for older kids to begin with.) Not to mention that American readers might be put off at some of the pure British jargon.
With bizarre characters and a funny plot that includes talking animals, spooky ghosts, clueless royalty, and hilarious miscommunication, this is a unique fairy tale that drives home the old saying: you can't pick your family, but you can pick your friends. And sometimes, for better or worse, your friends become your family.
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The Ogre of Oglefort isn't really what I expected it to be and for that I was incredibly grateful.Read more