The Ogre Downstairs by Diana Wynne Jones

These days thanks to the Corona virus, I am on a reading spree. Am currently devouring all Diana Wynne gems. Really, if there is one writer whose mind I would like to visit, even for an hour then that would be Diana Jones. If you have any of her books in your hand, you are bound to find it interesting, funny, gripping, somehow realistic, uplifting and the book will definitely enter the list of your all time favourite books. How does she do it? I wish I knew. And the plots of her books are absolutely delicious.

Take The Ogre Downstairs for instance. If you go by the cover, you would think the book is about a real ogre. But the ogre in this book is a man but when you hear the kids in the story talking about him, you start to fervently agree with them. The man is definitely an ogre. The ogre is Caspar, Johnny and Gwinny’s step dad. He has two kids of his own, Douglas and Malcolm. Together, with Sally, their mother, they all live in a house which is simply too small to accommodate them all. Caspar and Co hate the ogre and his snobby kids. Sally tries her best with them but they are always polite, nothing more. One month into their new life, things suddenly change. The ogre gifts a chemistry set to Johnny and Malcolm. Ooh, I really really wish I had one of those. Because you see these sets are magic. Johnny and Malcolm, both with an inquiring set of mind get experimenting with surprising and disastrous results. There is a lot of rivalry and secrecy is the key. Both set of kinds mix up a formula which makes them fly. Caspar somehow turns his finger invisible. Malcolm becomes a boy chameleon. Gwinny’s dolls come alive and demand food. And don’t get me started on the chocolate bars and the radiator. And the bucket! Jones weaves a magical tale and slowly things between the two set of kids start improving. They go from hating each other’s guts to understanding and defending one another from the ogre. But one day, their mother disappears. Johnny and Gwinny both try to kill the ogre with disastrous consequences. Of course, Sally returns and they all live happily ever after. But what happens to the ogre? Does he die or simply vanish? Want to find out. Read this book right now.

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