The Ogre Downstairs, Paperback
4 out of 5 (5 ratings)


Diana Wynne Jones at her finest - family feuds and chaos, magic with hilarious results and some of the most original ideas ever to appear between the covers of a book.

Casper, Johnny and Gwinny get a big shock when their mother marries the Ogre.

The Ogre is large and stern and not at all interested in children, although this doesn't prevent him from adding his own two awful sons, Douglas and Malcolm, to the family mix.

Now the five children and two adults are squashed under the same roof, which can lead to only one thing - war!

Then the Ogre brings home the Chemistry Sets - one for Malcolm and one for Johnny.

Not that Johnny is impressed by this very obvious bribe.

At least, not until they accidentally discover the flying lotion.

Then the real fun begins...


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256 pages, Illustrations
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Fantasy
  • ISBN: 9780007154692



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Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews.

Review by

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.

Review by

This is a story about some children who have to deal with the fact that their two sets of parents have married. They live in a too-small house, the father isn't used to children and the stresses are beginning to show. When two of the boys get chemistry sets things take a strange turn as the chemistry sets turn out to be magical.It's an interesting blend of magical and mundane and the children felt quite real. Fun and enjoyable. The beginning felt a little slow and almost lost me though but once I was a few chapters in things improved.

Review by

I love the premise of a magical chemistry set - and the bits of Greek and Latin are pretty neat too. The ending is a bit flat, but the rest of the book is great.

Review by

This was really cute and fun, more so because it did have a fair amount of darkness and gravity. My favorite parts included the endlessly amusing adventures of the living toffee, toy grubs, and pet pipe (somehow the more hilarious for their frequent awful deaths), and Gwinny's list of the contents of the poisoned cake.<br/><br/>I'm still very confused about why this was in the YA section of the library, though! If nothing else, the cover clearly markets to a younger audience than that. I hope it was just a confused librarian and not someone worried that small children would get the wrong idea about poisoning a stepparent. ;)<br/><br/>Gosh, though, I hope at least some men in the seventies were more competent than the Ogre. The man can't cook or do the laundry. And his wife works!

Review by

Great story of difficult family life, misunderstandings and hilarious outcome of using magic.