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4.8 out of 5 stars
The Ogre Downstairs
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 12 August 2001
Great Jerry Springer start there. There are far too many "issue" books for teenagers around. This book was written before that market was ever discovered, let alone exploited. A truly wonderful, bizarre, magical book which doesn't flinch from the step-parent subject but addresses it with humour, alchemy and ancient greek bikers. This writer needs more coverage. More recognition. More money.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 24 July 1999
When I first looked at "The Ogre Downstairs" I really wasn't that interested. But my aunt made me read it, it took a few months for her to finally convince me to read the first chapter, and she promised, that if I didn't like the first chapter, I didn't have to read the rest. I tell you the truth, I was hooked on that book from the moment I finished the first page! "The Ogre Downstairs" it and outstanding book. I have read it many times over, each time getting better. This book is a blend of science and fantasy (in my opinon), and a spectacular read for all ages. This book didn't have one boring part, it really keeps you on your toes. I HIGHLY recomend this book. Believe me, I'm a tough critc when it comes to books, it's not often that I find a book I like so much.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 7 November 2006
I first read this when it came out in Puffin paperback about 30 years ago when I was 10. I now have children of my own. I came across the book and started reading it again, and you know what, it's still as great - and as modern - as it was then. I remembered laughing out loud when I read it the first time and I still laughed when I read it again. Believe me, there are not many books that can do that. Yet this is a great adventure story. The characters are so well-drawn I can't fault them, all with their own little ways; and as for the experiments, fantastic! I love reading, but this book is still one of the best. Everyone should read it. It's a gem.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 6 February 2004
This is a book that makes you grin from ear to ear. On one level it is a story of breath-taking magic, of crunchy chemicals in glass tubes that can make you fly, or invisible, or swop bodies for the day with your posh Scottish step-brother, or make toffee-bars come to life and wrap themselves over warm radiators in the middle of a posh dinner party. On another it is about trying to squeeze two families into one and how you can't expect two sets of children to get on just because the adults happen to have fallen in love. This secondary theme is so apt for modern life, it is hard to remember that Dianne actually wrote this book back in the Eighties. It is funny, clever, magical and touching.
And it has as a central figure, Caspar, a character every bit as wonderful as Eric Chant. Caspar is wise and cool and ridiculous all at once, a child version of Bill Murray's Peter Venckman from Ghostbusters. Caspar steals every scene he's in and is one of those characters who you long to be real so that you could spend time with him.
A cracking read and one that is just as good if you are in your mid-thirties as it was when you were eleven.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 10 November 1999
I was searching round the library for something to read, when I stumbled across a fantasy book - Howl's Moving Castle. It looked good, and seeing as I love fantasy, I decided to read it. It was one of the BEST books I have ever read! So I decided to read some others. I was a little reluctant to read "The Ogre Downstairs" because it is reasonably old, but I gave at a chance. I was hooked within the first page!!! Although I don't think it really is quite as good as Howl's Moving Castle, or Archer's Goon - it is WAY better than the magicians of caprona! It's a light-hearted story, and is easy to understand, it keeps your reading and is pretty unpredictable ( well, I suppose it is a little! )
Anyway, it has a good plot, has the "all essential" touch of humour - and is basically a great read! I would say it's for ages: 10 - 14
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 February 2006
This book is loads of adventures in one. Life wasn't the same when i finished it.I've never enjoyed a book so much. There are lots of ideas i would have never thought of.
This book is funny and has lots of action. I wasn't into reading at the time but I was swallowed up by this book (not literally).
I think you should buy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 December 2011
I recently finished reading this as the bedtime story for my girls. We all thoroughly enjoyed it. As is usual for Dianne Wynne Jones it is extremely well written, funny and thought provoking. The basic premise is the coming together of two families with all the attendant faults and foibles of the individuals set against a backdrop of magic and mayhem. Dianne Wynne Jones was obviously a very mature and wise person, with a good understanding of human nature - she never resorts to stereotypes and situations are never resolved through violence but through cooperation and cleverness.
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on 28 November 2010
Two single parent families are forced together when the mother and father marry. The ogre of the title refers to the new stepfather who is unused to the presence of children in the house as his children have previously been to boarding schools.

The two sets of children of course do not get on and neither set seems to like the ogre (although the mother is a saint!). Once some magical chemistry sets bought from a mysterious toy shop become involved all kinds of hilarity ensues until events start to take a darker turn when the children decide they cannot put up with the ogre any longer.

A very, very funny and imaginative book, and strongly recommended.
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on 17 May 2011
I felt for the children whose otherwise loving and thoughtful parent had remarried without consulting her children beforehand. That and the fact that the new stepfather (the "Ogre" of the title) smokes a pipe and considers children should be seen and not heard are the only things to date this engaging tale of a Chemistry Set that does far more than you would expect. Might put you off toffee. Suitable for more fluent readers, perhaps aged 10 upwards.
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on 8 December 2011
I remember this book being read to us at school. My brother then bought it and I 'borrowed' it from him to read again as I had enjoyed it so much when I'd heard it. I am now buying this for my 10 year old daughter this Christmas.

I would strongly recommend this book for all children from 9 years old upwards. It's funny, exciting yet can also teach you a few life lessons, especially when it comes to step-families.
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