The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim

story of owenThe Story of Owen follows a teenage boy following his family tradition of slaying dragons. Set in a modern world, where dragons feed on carbon emissions, E. K. Johnston weaves the history of dragons into the history we read in our textbooks today.

Surrounded by normal high school kids, Owen finds himself somewhere between being an outcast and a celebrity. The narrator of the story, Sibohan, is Owen’s best friend and a musical prodigy. Together the duo, along with Owen’s famous family, wants to change the way the world views dragon slaying.

Things That Worked For Me:

  • History – Johnston incorporates a lot of history (real and fictional) into the story. This is a great choice by the publisher, who focuses on educational-based children’s books. The history, although long-winded at times, was interesting and appropriate for the story. Johnston does a great job of weaving the story’s fictional history into the history we believe in our world. Its a great way to sneak a little history lesson into your child’s fun reading! 
  • Another creative twist of real life and fiction is the fact that these dragons feed on carbon emissions. We know its a danger in our world, but image if every time you drove a car or worked at a factory, you had a serious chance of being attacked by a fire-breathing dragon.
  • Rural Canadian setting – The setting worked well for the story, keeping the reader grounded to reality in an unrealistic world. Growing up in rural Minnesota, the setting was familiar to me but also differed in interesting ways.
  • Music, Dragons, History – What a mix!? The narrator is a musical prodigy and her best friend is a dragon slayer…where else will you find a duo quite like that!?
  • Characters – Johnston incorporated a good mix of characters. Some are quiet and reserved, others are loud and outgoing. Some are athletic, others musical. Some past their prime, others growing into it.
  • Dragons in a Modern World – Just plain cool.

Things That Didn’t Work For Me:

  • History – Ironically the thing I liked most about the book (the interesting mix of real and imagined history) is also my least favorite. The history lessons, with a great mix of real and fictional, made my head feel like a bong getting hit over and over and over again. Especially in a book aimed for children and young adults, the story needs to move quick; the author can’t afford to waste a single page with useless backstory and, unfortunately, Johnston wasted much more than that.
  • Over Simplified – Emotions were often over simplified and saw drastic, unexplained changes.
  • Too Slow – Even at the height of action, the story moved too slow. This could have been helped by staying in the present and avoiding long “what might happen now” explanations.

Overall, I give The Story of Owen 3 stars.

Check out the New York Times book review on The Story of Owen here! 

The Story of Owen is a series. If interested check out the second book in the series, Prairie Fire.


About Sarah JS

Aspiring writer, lover of words, book nerd, working editor, and permanent student of the world

Posted on July 15, 2015, in Book Review and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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