It’s always idyllic in the village until the landlord comes to call.
Because the landlord is an Ogre. And Ogres rule the world, with their size and strength and appetites. It’s always been that way. It’s the natural order of the world. And they only eat people sometimes.
But when the headman’s son, Torquell, dares lift his hand against the landlord’s son, he sets himself on a path to learn the terrible truth about the Ogres, and about the dark sciences that ensured their rule.
Publication details: 15 March 2022, by Solaris. Review copy provided by the publisher.
Tchaikovsky is fast becoming one of my favourite novella writers, and not just because he’s so prolific. It’s clear that he really understands the format and how to use the limited word count to his advantage, telling the reader exactly what they need to know to get hooked in the world and the story, without it feeling too bloated, or too thin.
Part of this is that he’s really good at telling what are, on the face of it, simple stories that follow well-recognised archetypes, and then peeling away the parable’s layers to reveal something deeper underneath. Ogres is no exception to this rule. The premise is a basic one: humans live in what is essentially a serfdorm, ruled by a race of ogres. Our main character, Torquell, is a rebellious child, not at all interested in politics, but before long he is spun into a tale of actual revolution, that draws on both examples of the historical oppression of the working classes and the perils that await us thanks to late-stage capitalism and the climate crisis.
The use of second person narration (a trick I love, but one that I know can rub others the wrong way) is often a pretty clear marker that parts of the character’s identity will only be revealed over time, since there must be some reason why we are being asked to experience the story directly. But I will say, without spoilers, that I was surprised by exactly how the story unfolded (even if I could predict the general direction), but that it also made complete sense in hindsight. Again, Tchaikovsky knows what he’s doing when it comes to picking his moments to reveal information throughout the story.
After the successes of Ogres, Elder Race and One Day All This Will be Yours, I am really looking forward to seeing what Tchaikovsky does next – and the good news is, we likely won’t even have to wait that long!