By E.K. Johnston
Ignore the cover. Ignore the summary. Go straight for the first page of this book and start reading because this is the single most amazing, beautiful, heartbreaking, hilarious, emotionally compromising, pulchritudinous, SOUL TEARING sequel I have ever laid eyes on in my long history of laying eyes on books. Or better yet, read the first book.
Prairie Fire finishes the tale of Siobhan McQuaid and Owen Thorskgard started in The Story of Owen, where Siobhan becomes the bard of Owen, a dragon slayer. The world building in this series is phenomenal. Set in an alternate universe shaped by the existence of non-magical, carbon-consuming dragons, everything is pretty much the same as our world, but tweaked for the allowance of dragons. For example, the United States is half the size as it is in our universe, Canada claimed all the extra land, and the Sahara Desert was created through an environmental disaster caused by a dragon war. Driver’s Ed contains sessions detailing dragon evasion, and there is an international army of dragon slayers that work around the world to protect people from the dragons, called the Oil Watch.
In the beginning of Prairie Fire, Owen and Siobhan enlist in the Oil Watch, proving to be difficult for Siobhan, who suffers from physical injuries after the events of The Story of Owen. The book follows Owen and Siobhan’s experiences in the Oil Watch, with Siobhan struggling to overcome the limitations of her injuries, and Owen trying to do his duty to protect people, no matter the outcomes. Everything is told through the voice of Siobhan, who proves not only to be subtly hilarious, but insightful and immensely entertaining.
The relationships between characters in these two books are extremely diverse and genuine for a young adult book. The main female character does not end up dating the main male character, and said main female character does not have a rivalry with main male character’s girlfriend. Owen’s aunt is married to another woman, and his father is not married to his mother, who chose to stay in her country, Venezuela. The characters themselves are extremely well written and constructed, including the side characters, who do not get written out of the story. Even in Prairie Fire, when faced with a potential love triangle, Siobhan does not feel pressured to start relationships with either of the love interests, but rather chooses not to engage in a romance at the time so she could work on her other issues, such as composing music of Owen’s deeds and staying alive.
The only things I did not like about these books have nothing to do with the content. The cover art is rather atrocious, looking so badly photoshopped that I had decided not to read The Story of Owen when I first saw it (I later read it and discovered just how wrong my assumptions were). The summary is no less convincing, a little cheesy and not at all compelling.
Overall, The Story of Owen and its sequel, Prairie Fire, were both engaging, entertaining, hilarious, and magnificent. The ending of Prairie Fire made me sob so much my family grew concerned. I can not write enough to express my love for these two books. If this review did not convince you to read it (I doubt it did, these books can not be explained and my writing does not do them justice), then just go, find The Story of Owen in your local site of book distribution, charge past the horrible cover and slightly better summary and read the first page. These books are so beautiful that I place them on the same shelf as Harry Potter. E.K. Johnston is an incredible writer, and I am looking forward to more books by her.
If these books were food, they would be homemade apple fritters with vanilla sauce, still warm.
Sweet, but not barf your face off sugary, kinda sorta healthy, filling and satisfactory, and so good that you have an emotional breakdown after finishing them because there are no more left and you need more because they were so amazing and huggable (though I do not recommend hugging apple fritters) and make you want to cry and sing Disney songs at the same time. If by any chance apple fritters are not a favorite or an experience you have had yet, then these books are like your favorite comfort food. I give both The Story of Owen and Prairie Fire five out of five stars.