I actually squealed when I opened the box: Inside were two galleys of Prairie Fire, by E.K. Johnston. My glee stemmed from two sources. First, OMG, it’s a sequel to my favorite book of 2014! And second, it gives me a chance to talk about said favorite book one more time.
All year long, ever since last December, when I read The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim, I have had an easy answer to a sometimes-difficult question: “What do you like this year?” I’ve read plenty of great books, mind you, but for some reason, this story of the teenage dragon slayer, his indomitable hero aunt and her devoted blacksmith wife, his quietly diligent father, and above all, his friend and bard, Siobhan, has stuck with me.
I love its casually clever worldbuilding and the way narrator Siobhan helps readers understand this alternative Earth in which carbon-loving dragons are a perennial threat, made all the more dangerous by the Industrial Revolution. I love its wry Canadian humor and its affection for the fictional community of Trondheim. I love its zeal for justice and its keen understanding of geopolitics. I love Siobhan’s passion for music and her dedication to her friend. I love the fact that it’s not a romance.
I love everything about it, actually, and I am not above blatantly milking every forum given to me by Kirkus Reviews to further my agenda of ensuring that every English-speaking reader over the age of 12 reads it.
I have to admit I’m a little anxious about Prairie Fire—can I possibly love it as much as I love The Story of Owen? I’m not sure it matters, as simply knowing that the book exists makes me idiotically happy. To everyone who loves Owen and Siobhan as much as I do: OMG! There’s a sequel! You’ll need to hang on till March 2015, but isn’t just knowing it’s on its way the best news ever? —V.S.Vicky Smith is the children’s & teen editor at Kirkus Reviews.