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Ogre Enchanted

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Ogre Enchanted Book Poster Image
Girl becomes ogre in imaginative "Ella Enchanted" spin-off.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The story is a loose retelling of a Polish fairy tale, and makes reference to a number of beloved fairy tales, including "Beauty and the Beast."

Positive Messages

Perhaps the strongest message here is that the people who really love you will still do so when you've been turned into a gross, smelly monster, and know it's still you, whatever you look like. A related message: Not everyone who's sweet, charming, and beautiful on the outside is a good person on the inside. Also strong messages about kindness, friendship, family, getting past misunderstandings, and using your skills and relationships to help others and solve problems.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Evie is highly relatable as she struggles to do the right thing (and if possible, do what it takes to get back to normal) while dealing with the fact that she's suddenly a monster -- with a monster's bloodthirsty cravings. Her friend Wormy, aside from being the guinea pig for all her cures, never wavers in his devotion. Her mom, ditto. Other characters prove to be true friends, fake friends, and havoc-wreaking random forces.

Violence & Scariness

As an ogre, Evie wants to maim and devour everyone she sees, including her loved ones, so much of her inner struggle involves not giving in to that impulse. In one graphic scene, she stabs, hacks, and kills other ogres to save the life of their would-be victim -- making a friend in the process. As the result of a curse, a character is married to a self-absorbed fake prince who doesn't love her.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ogre Enchanted, a return to the world of Ella Enchanted by author Gail Carson Levine, is a creative re-spinning of the Beauty and the Beast theme intersecting with a Polish fairy tale about real and false princes. There's plenty to relate to in heroine Evie's struggles as she's turned into an ogre who can only break the spell by getting someone to propose marriage, and accepting. As if anyone's going to love her as a hideous, carnivorous, smelly monster. One startlingly gory scene; lots of positive messages about family, friendship, true vs. false love, and recognizing who people are regardless of appearances. Not everyone who deserves to live happily ever after does.

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What's the story?

Fifteen-year-old Evie is happily pursuing her studies as a healer when Wormy, her lifelong friend and most faithful patient, upsets everything by proposing marriage. Evie sensibly points out that they're a little young and she has other things on her mind right now, and this probably would be OK with Wormy -- but not for meddlesome fairy Lucinda, last seen wreaking havoc in Ella Enchanted.  Lucinda just can't stand romance gone wrong, so she puts a curse on Evie, turning the girl into a huge, ugly, stinking ogre. Evie will remain an OGRE ENCHANTED if she can't get someone to fall in love with her and propose marriage. In 62 days. People (and ogres) aren't always what they seem in this tale, but the eyes of true love can see through the illusion to what's really there.

Is it any good?

This imaginative tale explores the eternal quest for true love, the peril of deceptive appearances, and having to make the best of your mistakes. In Ogre Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine returns to the world of Ella Enchanted with a new tale involving troublesome fairy Lucinda -- this time turning a young teen who doesn't want to get married into a monster. As protagonist Evie struggles with her new physical reality, which she may not be able to escape, readers will find her inner conflicts (such as simultaneously really loving people and really wanting to devour them) both intriguing and oddly relatable.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the theme of people who get enchanted into completely different forms, as in Ogre Enchanted. Do you have any favorite stories where this happens? What do you like about them?

  • If you suddenly didn't look a bit like yourself, how do you think your friends and family would react? Would it freak them out, or would they know it was you and just accept you?

  • Evie recognizes that her plight has a lot in common with the Beauty and the Beast story -- and also has problems with how that story turns out. Do her thoughts make you see that story differently?

Book details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love fairy tales and fantasy

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