The Story of Owen, Dragon Slayer of Trondheim - e. k. johnston
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.
There have always been dragons. As far back as history is told, men and women have fought them, loyally defending their villages. Dragon slaying was a proud tradition. But dragons and humans have one thing in common: an insatiable appetite for fossil fuels. From the moment Henry Ford hired his first dragon slayer, no small town was safe. Dragon slayers flocked to cities, leaving more remote areas unprotected. Such was Trondheim's fate until Owen Thorskard arrived.
At sixteen, with dragons advancing and his grades plummeting, Owen faced impossible odds armed only with a sword, his legacy, and the classmate who agreed to be his bard. Listen! I am Siobhan McQuaid. I alone know the story of Owen, the story that changes everything. Listen! (From Inside Cover)
This is a contemporary fantasy that hits all the right notes. A dragon slayer living outside of Toronto, a government eerily reminiscent of a certain terrible conservative gentleman currently in power, commentary on carbon emissions, and all within a fantastical story of a newly appointed bard and her dragon slaying companion (both of whom are in high school.) Owen is the sone of the world's most famous dragon slayer (no pressure, right?!), and while wandering the halls of his high school one day, lost between classes, Siobhan guides him, and from that moment on they are inseparable.
Shortly after the two find each other, things start to get worse in their part of the world. Dragons seem to be attacking more often, and Owen's father is having trouble keeping up. And one of their classmates has a father who is convinced there is a new hatching field near the town of Trondheim. Stuff hits the fan and the two are forced to attempt something only previously tried by Queen Victoria. But will it be enough?!
The writing is strong, full of wit and humour, but also incredibly poignant (I don't use this word often, but when I do, I mean it.) The narrative moves between current events and some brilliantly crafted backstory that looks into the history of dragon slaying from the Romans, to the Victorian era, through the industrial revolution, and into modern warfare. Johnston beautifully incorporates dragon lore into historical events, seamlessly rewriting history in imaginative and fascinating ways.
Character and world building are incredibly well done, layered and complex without taking away from the pacing and action. I can't say enough good stuff about this book. I mean, dragons! And humorous commentary on politics and global warming. Woot!
(You can tell my brain is dead after the last few weeks... I just ended a review with "Woot"!)