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The Ogre's Curse by Janean Nusz (Mid-Grade Reader: Fantasy)

The Ogre's Curse by Janean Nusz (Mid-Grade Reader: Fantasy)
 
(2 reviews)  

Soon after she discovers a small nugget of gold high in the mountains near the legendary Ogre's Cave, the people of Kaitlin's village mysteriously begin to disappear. Not a trace of their passing is left, and no clue can be found to indicate their fate.

As the population of the village dwindles to almost nothing, Kaitlin discovers that she is the cause of the disappearances, and sets out to right her mistake. After enlisting the help of her three friends, and a 'foundling' with mysterious abilities, Kaitlin journeys to Mount Gillhad to confront the Ogre's Curse.

Can she stop the Curse in time? Or will her entire village suffer the Ogre's wrath?

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The Ogre's Curse by Janean Nusz (Mid-Grade Reader: Fantasy)
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2 Most useful customer reviews (see all reviews):
Christine Spindler http://www.ebooks.christinespindler.de/janean.htm
There is something bad in the forest. Watching us. I can smell it, but I don't know what it is."

Kaitlin lives in a lovely cottage in the mountains near a little village. She helps her older sister make a living. How can there be any danger in this idyllic setting? One day, Kaitlin discovers a nugget of gold near a legendary Ogre's cave. She takes the nugget and decides there has to be a treasure that practically waits to be found. But before she and her friends can set out on their quest, strange things happen in the small village. People disappear, leaving not a trace. It's a shock for Kaitlin to learn that someone took something from the ogre, and now the chimera is taking the villagers to get it back. It must all be about the nugget of gold. It's her fault that the villagers disappear! The Ogre isn't just a legend. It's alive and kicking and wants its gold back.

Now, Kaitlin and her friend set out on an even bigger adventure as they initially planned: they want to take the gold back to the Ogre's cave, and find and save the villagers.

A cast of wonderful characters peoples this fantastic story. I especially liked Dun the shapeshifter, Kaitlin's friendly "bodyguard". Kaitlin and her friends meet all sorts of scary creatures along the way and step into uncountable traps. But they always manage to help each other and in the end, they face the biggest threat of all... the ogre's wrath. A superb adventure.
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Martha E. Wunsch for Word Museum
Although Harry Potter and phoenixes, sphinxes and chimera are not my bag, I grabbed Janean Nusz's young adult fantasy adventure published by Writers Exchange, "The Ogre's Curse". The Ogre's Curse challenged my adoration of historical fiction or earthly adventures, but I ventured out on ledges and hung over caverns and snake pits, nevertheless.

Kaitlin, the protagonist, flies from cliff to cave and all around her kingdom, tragically losing her beloved shapeshifting dog-man-dragon friend, Dun, to poisonous piercings. Will Dun survive, after all?

Kaitlin had created havoc and death in her entire village back home after she took her bit of the ogre's gold. The children of missing parents join her in her quest to regain her sister Maria plus the whole village population.

The Ogre's Curse shines forth with scene after scene of gripping discoveries in other worlds. I'm anxious to introduce it to my teenage classroom students. Step out into fantasy and give it a whirl this Christmas.
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Sample Chapter

Prologue

The creature stalked through Brekkin forest, its massive body plowing easily through the branches and twigs of the thick undergrowth. It could smell the elusive scent that quickened its blood, and also the sweet innocence of a small girl child as she played not far ahead. The tantalizing smells drew it forward, closer and closer.

Soon, the creature was no more than a few feet away from the child. The scent of her was almost overpowering, and the beast sniffed the air, huffing in great quantities of the delicious aroma. It exhaled, sending a gust of its foul breath over the leaves of the bush that concealed it, and paused, withers quivering in anticipation.

The beast was not concerned that the child would see it crouching there, waiting and watching. It had long since grown accustomed to the cloak of evil magic that clung to it like cockles, protecting and concealing it.

The beast waited a moment longer, wanting to catch a trace of the other scent it had followed down from Galhad mountain, the scent that drove it to madness and beckoned it across the miles. But it could not find any trace of what it had come for, and so it remained, watching the child play.

A man was with the child. Not young, nor old, but a healthy man in the prime of his life, he played alone with the young girl in the quiet meadow. By the scent of him, the beast knew the girl was his offspring.

The man began to swing the child around and around in his arms, eliciting a bubbling giggle from her. The sound grated on the beast's nerves, and it gave a low angry growl. Faster and faster they twirled, until they were almost a blur to the creature that watched them, eyes glowing with hate.

A single thought, one buried deep in the beast's mind, asserted itself again, reminding the beast of its purpose. There was a litany of enchanted orders given long ago, a single all-consuming command that had been burned into its thoughts with such powerful magic that it was now a permanent part of the beast. It was an echo of the evil magic that cloaked it. Seek… find… capture. Seek…find…capture.

The beast's tongue flicked out to catch the drool trailing from one long set of fangs. Yes, Master, I will not fail you. I will please you, Master. I will please you this time, it thought.

The creature crept closer, then closer still, until it was so near it could feel the brush of air as the man twirled the child. An evil grin pulled back the lips of its many mouths, and it smiled.

The man and the child, still unaware, played on.

Between one heartbeat and the next, the creature pounced, and as it did, the cloak of evil magic fell away for just a second. The child squealed as she saw it, a high thin shriek of abject terror that echoed across the meadow and was quickly choked off.

The man turned to face the unknown threat behind him, shoving the little girl behind his back for protection.

But it was already too late, much too late.

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