Hello hello, and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner of the internet. Today is my stop on the blog tour for the middle grade read, The Ogress and the Orphans. A big thank you to Eleanor at Piccadilly Press for sending me a copy of this beautiful book.
Stone-in-the-Glen, once a lovely town, has fallen on hard times. Fires, floods, and other calamities have caused the townsfolk to lose their library, their school, their park, and all sense of what it means to be generous, and kind. The people put their faith in the Mayor, a dazzling fellow who promises he alone can help. After all, he is a famous dragon slayer. (At least, no one has seen a dragon in his presence.) Only the clever orphans of the Orphan House and the kindly Ogress at the edge of town can see how dire the town’s problems are.
When one of the orphans goes missing from the Orphan House, all eyes turn to the Ogress. The orphans, though, know this can’t be: the Ogress, along with a flock of excellent crows, secretly delivers gifts to the people of Stone-in-the-Glen. But how can the orphans tell the story of the Ogress’s goodness to people who refuse to listen? And how can they make their deluded neighbours see the real villain in their midst? The orphans have heard a whisper that they will ‘save the day’, but just how, they will have to find out …
Sometimes, I have fellow readers ask me why I read young adult and middle grade literature. Books like this are why. Full of beautiful writing, unforgettable characters and messages to hit us right in the heart regardless of age, this will become well known as a modern childhood classic.
It was a truly wonderful tale, where I found myself eased along at a steady pace, following the many stories this singular book is composed of. “There is magic in kindness”, and there are many kinds of magic in this book. One of the children hears the words of the ancient oak tree the house is made from. One has taught herself, and her siblings, to speak crow. The crows, incidentally, ended up being some of my favourite characters in the story; every interaction with them made me smile. From their utter faith in the Ogress to their equally utter confidence that they are the most superb animals ever, it was little parts of the whole like this which made the book shape up as wonderfully as it did.
So many messages come through from these pages. The importance of being kind, of course. How that kindness can bloom and spread if we allow it to. How some people will naturally try to take all that kindness and twist it into spikes if we allow them to. How we can love those around us with all our hearts, more than we love ourselves. How a family is what we make it into, and can be composed of so many more things than what the world might want us to think. An ogress, some crows, a blind dog and a herd of sheep, for example, is just as much of a family.
It’s a powerful and astonishingly beautiful book, that will stay with you long after you close it. You will find yourself thinking of it in the quiet of the dark, and wondering if that crow you can hear outside is wishing you good night, or encouraging you to read another chapter. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s the kind of “caw” that translates to, “there’s a parcel of food and love on your doorstep”.
Thanks for stopping by for my top on this blog tour today. The Ogress and the Orphans is out now, and available at all major book retailers. You can find the smart link to buy at various stores online here. My thanks again to Piccadilly Press for this book, and for involving me in this blog tour.