The Story of Owen by E.K. Johnston

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Dragon Slayer of Trondheim bk 1. CarolRhoda Lab, 2014. ISBN 9781467710664
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Science fiction. Fantasy. Music. 2015 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (Top Ten), William C. Morris YA Debut Award Nominee (2015), Kirkus Prize Nominee for Young Readers' Literature (2014). This is the story of Owen Thorskard, slayer of dragons and his bard Siobhan McQuaid, who tells his story. Set in an alternative America, where dragons are drawn to fossil fuels, the people are protected by dragon slayers, who are lured to the cities by big corporations, leaving small towns unprotected. When the Thorskards, a legendary dragon fighting family, arrive in Trondheim, a remote Canadian village, 16 year old Owen faces an onslaught of dragons with just his sword and his bard to help him.
This is a stunning book. Once I got reading I couldn't put it down. It is a wonderful and original mixture of modern life, carbon emission eating dragons and song writing. Owen and Siobhan have to face ordinary situations at school and extraordinary situations fighting the dragons and this mixture adds to the humour and sometimes pathos in the story. A droll social commentary on big corporations and the environment adds to the interest of the story.
The tale is told in the witty and humorous voice of Siobhan:
'Listen! For I sing of Owen Thorskard: valiant of heart, hopeless at algebra, last in a long line of legendary dragon slayers. Though he had few years and was not built for football, he stood between the town of Trondheim and creatures that threatened its survival.'
The reader gets to know both Owen and Siobhan very well. Owen is a likeable hero and Siobhan grows as a bard in training and as a sword wielder while recounting their story. The focus is on the nature of heroism and partnership rather than romance as the pair learn to cope with modern life while defending their village and those they love. They also learn that sacrifices have to be made.
This story was complete in itself. It was such a relief not to be left on a cliff-hanger! However I am thrilled that there will be other adventures in the series and eagerly wait for the next book.
Pat Pledger