I’ve always been a major fan of Ella Enchanted, both the book and the film (which are both vastly different on a rather large number of levels, so if you’ve only ever bothered with one, I definitely suggest checking out the other since they both have their merits) and so when I first learned that there was going to be a prequel, I kind of lost my mind with excitement. How could I not want to read a second book set in the world of Ella Enchanted? Already I was anticipating some callbacks to the original novel. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to receive an advanced readers copy from Lili @UtopiaStateofMind as part of her ARC adoption project and I couldn’t be more grateful to her for it especially as this is a book that I did end up deeply enjoying spending my time with.
Ogre Enchanted begins with a young healer called Evie who is rushing off to help a giant who has potentially been fatally wounded when her best friend begins his proposal. If you’ve ever read Ella Enchanted, you’ll know that the sudden appearance of the fairy Lucinda bodes nothing but ill and soon enough, after rejecting Wormy’s proposal, Evie is transformed into an Ogre as per Lucinda’s manipulative curse designed to force her into accepting someone to marry.
And thus begins a series of adventures that Evie likely never would have had on her own as she embarks on a path to learn all she can about being an ogre and perhaps to find someone to one day become engaged to. I had a vast amount of fun getting to know all the wonderful characters in this story and even more fun trying to figure out just how they would all connect together with the characters from Ella Enchanted. Never once did Levine disappoint as even though I had many theories on how the story would go not only was everything a fresh experience but the ending was actually a surprise.
I think the best piece of this book came with the friendships Evie made throughout her time as an ogre, challenging everyone’s preconceptions of the species and opening them up to the opportunity of accepting a person (or ogre) for who they are and not for who we expect them to be as a result of how they look. It was fantastic to experience those sorts of feelings from this novel and to have the most amazing character development I’ve seen in a while. Ogre Enchanted did not disappoint in this regard.
As someone who genuinely feels that to be alone and to never marry is a rather devastating thought, the idea of Lucinda interfering to the point that this poor girl faces the possibility of remaining an ogre forever should she truly stick to her desire to not marry didn’t really hurt me much. However, I am aware enough of the fact that this is not the case for many others and thus I do not see it as very empowering or good that the expectation of breaking the curse was for Evie to accept someone’s proposal and marry. To the young girls who do not have these sorts of desires for marriage one day, this book might be somewhat harmful, and subtlety pushes the idea that one should never choose not to marry.
I felt conflicted about the novel as a whole for this reason and upon reading it I was eager to learn how Lavine would address this rather glaring problem with her novel. And I’m finding it difficult to express my feelings on the matter without providing a spoiler and as such I will say this; while I was reading the book I recall part of me hoping that she would find a way to break the curse without becoming engaged as it seemed to me a much more empowering way of ending the novel and also allowed for the truth that choosing not to marry is not a damning or awful decision. But a part of me also looked at each potential fiancée or husband and eagerly waited to see which one she might end up with—two of which I was thoroughly conflicted over—as I tend to be a romantic at heart.
Both potential endings were certainly ones that I wanted to see and thus Levine did not disappoint me with the one that she chose since I would have been happy with either. I cannot say that it will be the same for everyone else who reads this book. I enjoyed Ogre Enchanted immensely and am thrilled to have read it. It’s definitely a conflict inducing book for the reasons I’ve stated above, but it was also a fantastic read that I can certainly see myself picking up again at some point in the future.