Ogre Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine – Ella Enchanted #0.5 – HarperCollins – Published 16 October 2018
Evie is happiest when she is healing people, diagnosing symptoms, and prescribing medications, with the help of her devoted friend (and test subject) Wormy. So when Wormy unexpectedly proposes to her, she kindly turns him down; she has far too much to do to be marrying anyone. And besides, she simply isn’t in love with him.
But a certain meddling fairy named Lucinda has been listening in, and she doesn’t approve of Evie’s rejection. Suddenly, Evie finds herself transformed from a girl into a hideous, hungry ogre. Evie now has only sixty-two days to accept another proposal—or else be stuck as an ogre forever.
Ogre Enchanted is as enchanting and humorous as its predecessor Ella Enchanted, and will delight old fans and new readers alike. Ogre Enchanted is a modern-day fairytale, with a strong and independent lead character, and threads of friendship and romance. Simple and unique, this twist on a loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast will delight (and possibly disgust) young readers.
Evie, though only fifteen, is a gifted healer. Her passions are herbs, healing tonics and devoted attention to her patients. In Wormy, Evie has a dear friend and willing subject upon whom she tests all her new cures and tonics. But when Wormy proposes, Evie is quick to turn him down – she has no intention of marrying young. Unfortunately the fairy Lucinda hears Evie’s refusal and transforms Evie into a hideous, very smelly and eternally hungry ogre as punishment. Evie has just 62 days to accept another proposal or she will remain an ogre forever.
In the last year Gail Carson Levine has gifted readers with first a companion novel to her wonderful Two Princesses of Bamarre and now a new companion novel to the great Ella Enchanted. These two classics, favourites of my childhood and favourites still of young readers today, are brought into the lives of young readers again with two fresh stories. I was utterly thrilled when Ogre Enchanted was announced and even more thrilled when I was given the opportunity to read and review it. Unsurprisingly, I enjoyed returning to Kyrria and its world of enchantments and magical creatures.
The first half of Ogre Enchanted was a little slow and I would have liked more time to get to know Evie before she was turned into an ogre. As it is, the first half is a little repetitive as Evie makes plans and then journeys to live with other ogres. The second half of the novel was more interesting, with intrigue, familiar characters from Ella Enchanted, and an increase in pace.
Throughout, Evie remains a strong-willed and determined character. Young though she is, she has a great love of healing and caring for people – even if she can be very oblivious to the feelings of others. As her 62 days count down, Evie must decide if she will marry to return to being human or if her greater value lies in remaining as an ogre. She also learns more about love, and comes to distinguish between attraction and deeper, lasting feelings. Though I wish these emotions had been mined a little deeper, as they are in Ella Enchanted (which will remain my favourite), Ogre Enchanted is a delightful fairytale, with adventure, dragons, friendship, self-discovery, intrigue and, yes, romance. It is, however, a little disgusting in places as no details are spared, from Evie’s constant hunger, eating habits and particular odours, to the eating habits of the other ogres, as well as details surrounding illnesses, death, and beheadings.
Ogre Enchanted is sure to delight young readers who enjoy fairytale retellings, with brief touches of adventure and a strong and independent female protagonist. It is also sure to please old and new fans alike of the beautiful classic Ella Enchanted.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Children’s fiction – Middle-grade fiction.
Themes: Magic, proposals, ogres, healing, magical creatures, friendship, fairytales, fairytale adaptations, fairies.
Reading age guide: Ages 8 and up.
Advisory: Fantasy violence, murder and references to beheadings and the placing of heads on spikes, references to ogres consuming humans and death due to plague. References to corpses.
Published: 16 October 2018 by HarperCollins.
Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook. 352 pages.