The Ogre of Oglefort

All is not necessarily what it seems. Remember that.

Ogre-ness is not what it used to be before Shrek. Remember that.

I finally got to Eva Ibbotson’s latest (but not last, I believe) book the week before Christmas. It’s another of her fantastic, old style children’s stories, with a continental flavour, and plenty of humour.

A Hag, a Troll, a Wizard and a little boy travel to Oglefort to rescue a Princess from the Ogre. What meets them as they arrive is a little unexpected. The ogre isn’t nice, but he’s not too ogre-ish either. There are insects all over his body, which is a little yucky. He’s not too fond of baths.

And the Princess Mirella is not your common garden variety of Princess. There are Norns in this story. Really old ones. Underground ghosts of the kind we have all met when they were actually alive and travelled on the underground. Aunts can be the same the world over, and greedy people are too.

I have less personal experience of silly princes, but they seem like normal silly princes to me.

Then there are the people who don’t want to be who they are. Many of us don’t. But you could learn a thing or two from the wishes of these people, before you yourself start wishing.

Most of the story ends well, this being a traditional sort of tale.

I kept wanting to brush the insects off the page. Sometimes I thought they were insects, sometimes bits of dropped food (which tells you what a sloppy reader I am), but neither moved when shoved.

(Though in my pernickety mode I need to point out that Nils and his goose flew over Sweden. Not Norway. Easy mistake to make, however.)

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