Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Me on Prairie Fire

Title: Prairie Fire
Author: E.K. Johnston
Release Date: March 1, 2015
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab

Every dragon slayer owes the Oil Watch a period of service, and young Owen was no exception. What made him different was that he did not enlist alone. His two closest friends stood with him shoulder to shoulder. Steeled by success and hope, the three were confident in their plan. But the arc of history is long and hardened by dragon fire. Try as they might, Owen and his friends could not twist it to their will. Not all the way. Not all together.

Prairie Fire is poetic and honest. It's a hard book, a wonderful book, a book I will never be able to adequately describe.

After the slaying of the dragon, after she grabbed hold of that sword with her bare hands, Siobhan knew things would be hard for her. Her hands, her disability, it's all taken seriously and realistically. The physical therapy needed to do to regain some motor control in her fingers, the stiffness and the scar tissue. The struggle to make music, to tie ties and slip buttons into holes. To continue on as Owen's bard. She's not a dragon slayer. She knows that. Everyone knows that. But she's still important, she's still working hard, doing what she does best. She's willing to pay the price.

Now out of high school, Owen and Siobhan enter the Oil Watch. It's intriguing, seeing young people in the military like this. As opposed to dystopians with their rebellions and rough and ragged groups, here it's all ordered. Regimented. It's the part you don't see on the news or read in the paper. It's the before, the training. The part that isn't all glamour and slaying dragons. This is what makes them dragon slayers, what teaches them. But there's also a bit of ugly politics.

The story moves both east and west from their beginnings, and so comes even more world-building. You can see the twists and alterations in Canada's history made by the author (if you know the truth behind those parts of Canada's history). This world is more elaborate now, with new characters complete with their own world-building, their own stories and dragon slaying experience. Not just in Canada, but also other countries. It makes me wonder how far-reaching the research went, how deep into not only Canada but so man other countries' pasts the author had to look up.

It's books like this that make me glad I make notes while I read them. If not, I'm not sure what I'd have left to say. I finished this at two in the morning on a Friday. It left me speechless and sobbing. I'm not sure what this book is in a broad sense, but I know what it is to me. It's a book about duty, about purpose, about doing what's right. It's a book about friendship. It's a book about not only heroes but those who stand beside them, behind them, supporting them and telling their stories. Because there is always a story to tell.

(I received an e-galley of this title from Carolrhoda lab through NetGalley.)

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