The Ogre of Oglefortby Eva Ibbotson
Ivo the orphan, together with the Hag of Dribble, Ulf the Troll, and Brian the Wizard, sets out to save Princess Mirella from the dreaded Ogre of Oglefort. But when the rescuers arrive at the castle, they are shocked to find that the princess doesn't want to be saved; she wants the ogre to turn her into a bird so she can escape an arranged marriage. And the Ogre isn't… See more details below
Ivo the orphan, together with the Hag of Dribble, Ulf the Troll, and Brian the Wizard, sets out to save Princess Mirella from the dreaded Ogre of Oglefort. But when the rescuers arrive at the castle, they are shocked to find that the princess doesn't want to be saved; she wants the ogre to turn her into a bird so she can escape an arranged marriage. And the Ogre isn't nearly the fearsome creature he once was--in fact, he's rather depressed. Now the rescuers have a new goal: save Princess Mirella from her tyrannical royal family and help restore the Ogre and his castle to the fearsome (but fun) paradise it used to be.
A motley group hesitantly forms a princess-rescuing team and ends up in the last place they expected.
In a post–World War II London still recovering from the Blitz lives a Hag who's been dislodged from her Dribble (a water meadow where "the damp air is so soft"). At a meetingfor Unusual People, three partially-asleep norns assign the Hag, a troll, a self-doubting wizard and a open-hearted orphan to go to "an island as big as England and Scotland and Wales all put together" to rescue Princess Mirella from a flesh-eating ogre. They make the journey, befriend Mirella and take over the ogre's castle while the text calmly upends conventions and expectations: Mirella's no damsel-in-distress after all, and the ogre's more petulant and beleaguered than flesh-hungry. From Hag to ogre to misinformed norns to a previously-human gnu, Ibbotson's characters are non-glamorous and wistful but all the more human for it. Although soldiers try to kidnap Mirella, the real challenge for these mixed-age protagonists is sadness. The plot never flags or becomes sentimental; humor and gross-out tidbits (medicine made from used foot-washing water) pop up amid delicious turns of phrase (a dead salamander looks "like a very troubled banana which had died in its sleep"). Humility trumps grandness here; meanwhile, the castle becomes a home.
An offbeat, matter-of-fact journey from displacement to an idyllic homestead. (Illustrations not seen.)(Fantasy. 8-11)
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I think I'll buy it. It sounds like a good book so, why not?