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fineplan

Scavenging Book Stores and Libraries

Currently I'm a librarian and before that I was an archaeologist, a journalist, and definitely a bit of a world traveler.  I tend to mostly read science fiction and fantasy, though I do love a good mystery and I'm a bit of a book dabbler overall. I've been doing Goodreads for awhile, but a friend thought I might enjoy this as well. Let's see, yeah?

The Story of Stories

The Story of Owen - E.K. Johnston

I found this a very comfortable and relaxing read.

 

It's not that there isn't any action or something -- after all, this novel is set in our world with an alternate history that includes a dragon menace.  Basically, dragons have always existed and not only breathe fire, but are unhealthily (for both dragons and humans) attracted to fire byproducts.  This has had a huge impact on industry and modern technology, though it hasn't quashed the use of automobiles and other carbon emitting machines.  It has made them a lot more dangerous, though.  Plus the world needs dragon slayers and there are just not enough to go around.

 

The story starts when a famed dragon slayer leaves the celebrity life and retires to a small Canadian town with her family.  This coincides with an increase in dragon attacks.  Our protagonist, Siobhan, is not an adventurer.  She loves music to the exclusion of basically everything else.  It's hard to tell if she is truly unpopular or has just removed herself from high school society.  However, this all changes when the dragon slayer's nephew transfers to her school and she accidentally begins a friendship with him.  This leads to her becoming his "bard" -- basically his publicity agent.

 

Perhaps this is part of why the book feels so comfortable to me.  The action is always slightly removed since we know that Siobhan is telling us the story (and sometimes admits she's gussied it up a bit).  It's a fascinating exploration of the power of a tale told right.  This includes her compositions and the history of their world.

 

The other aspect that may make this book comfortable is that it also really explores different kinds of relationships.  Some chapters are about dragons attacking the high school or Siobhan and Owen's dragon slaying training, but other chapters are about Siobhan's first teenaged female friend and the issues that may be there or Siobhan and Owen's family dynamics.  These are all done very well and don't rely on the melodramatic twists that so many young adult novels bring in.  

 

So really, this is a novel of dragon slaying, but also about growing up and learning how to create your own community.  It's a very lovely novel.