Adrienne Martini Reviews Ogres by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Ogres, Adrian Tchaikovsky (Solaris 978-1-78618-528-0 $30.00, 144pp, hc) March 2022.

Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Ogres is hard to warm up to at first, mostly because it is written in the second person. It’s so hard to do well, the second person. Stick with it. Tchaikovsky knocks it out of the park, once you find your way in.

Ogres is the story of Torquell, a young man who is six feet tall, which is above average for a human but still is four feet smaller than your av­erage ogre. Given their size, Ogres are the ruling class in this vaguely medieval fantasy setting. The Landlord, an ogre, is on his way to check out his serfs, of which Torquell is one, and collect taxes. Torquell’s father is one of the village’s head men and it’s him the Landlord will interact with. As our narrator foreshadows: ‘‘Right now, the first incident in that hero’s journey is waiting just past the horizon and you have no idea, no idea at all.’’

Because of Torquell’s temper, he is launched into that journey. And, indeed, he had no idea at all. From there, a gripping (and sardonic) story ensues.

Ogres is a cunning take on both fantasy tropes and heroes’ journeys. Tchaikovsky’s hand is sure, even when it feels like the narrative is seconds away from slipping off of the rails. He sticks the landing, too, with a last paragraph that perfectly pays off the 144 pages that came before it.

Adrienne Martini has been reading or writing about science fiction for decades and has had two non-fiction, non-genre books published by Simon and Schuster. She lives in Upstate New York with one husband, two kids, and one corgi. She also runs a lot.

This review and more like it in the February 2022 issue of Locus.

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