The Story of Owen

Dragon Slayer of Trondheim

  • Interest Level: Grade 6 - Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 6

Listen! For I sing of Owen Thorskard: valiant of heart, hopeless at algebra, last in a long line of legendary dragon slayers. Though he had few years and was not built for football, he stood between the town of Trondheim and creatures that threatened its survival.

There have always been dragons. As far back as history is told, men and women have fought them, loyally defending their villages. Dragon slaying was a proud tradition.

But dragons and humans have one thing in common: an insatiable appetite for fossil fuels. From the moment Henry Ford hired his first dragon slayer, no small town was safe. Dragon slayers flocked to cities, leaving more remote areas unprotected.

Such was Trondheim’s fate until Owen Thorskard arrived. At sixteen, with dragons advancing and his grades plummeting, Owen faced impossible odds—armed only with a sword, his legacy, and the classmate who agreed to be his bard.

Listen! I am Siobhan McQuaid. I alone know the story of Owen, the story that changes everything. Listen!

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Interest Level Grade 6 - Grade 12
Reading Level Grade 6
Genre Young Adult
Copyright 2014
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Lab ®
Language English
Number of Pages 312
Publication Date 2014-03-01
Reading Counts! Level 8.6
Text Type Fiction—Science Fiction/Fantasy
BISACS YAF019010, YAF058260, YAF002030
Dewey [Fic]
Dimensions 5.25 x 7.5
Lexile 1020
ATOS Reading Level 6.6
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 163076
Accelerated Reader® Points 13.0
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Awards, Reviewed, and Starred Reviews

Author: E.K. Johnston

The cool things about Emily Kate Johnston are that she is a forensic archaeologist, she has lived on four continents, she decorates cupcakes in her spare time, she adores the Oxford comma, and she loves to make up stories. The less cool things about Kate are that she's from a small town in southwestern Ontario, she spends a lot of time crying over books in random coffee shops, and she can't play as many musical instruments as she wishes she could. The Story of Owen is Kate's first novel. Visit her online at


  • Evergreen Teen Book Award Nominee, Nominated, 2016
  • Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award Nominee, Nominated, 2016
  • Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award Master List, Long-listed, 2016
  • Oregon Reader's Choice Award Nominee, Nominated, 2016
  • Toronto Star Best Book of the Year, Winner, 2015
  • OLA Best Bets Young Adult Fiction, Winner, 2015
  • Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choices, Winner, 2015
  • Toronto Public Library Teens Summer Edition Booklist, Winner, 2015
  • White Pine Awards Reading Program Nominee, Nominated, 2015
  • NYC Reads 365 Recommended Reading List, Winner, 2015
  • YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults, Winner, 2015
  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2015
  • Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist, Short-listed, 2015
  • William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist, Commended, 2015
  • Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy Finalist, Short-listed, 2015
  • Cream of the Crop for Children's and Young Adult Literature, Winner, 2014
  • Kirkus Smart Reads for Teens, Winner, 2014
  • Tayshas Reading List, Winner, 2014
  • Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, Winner, 2014
  • Kirkus Prize for Young Readers' Literature Finalist, Short-listed, 2014
  • Green Mountain Book Award Master List, Long-listed, 2014
  • Kirkus Best Teen Books of the Year, Winner, 2014
  • Booklist Editor's Choice, Winner, 2014


Library Media Connection

“Siobhan narrates the story with great teen wit, and conveys her excitement and fear in an authentic teen voice…. [T]hemes of friendship, family, loyalty, and sacrifice will keep readers turning pages.” —Library Media Connection

School Library Journal

“Johnston seamlessly blends fantasy with realistic fiction…. Suggest this title to reluctant readers as the fast-paced plot and witty dialogue will keep them turning pages until the tale’s exciting conclusion. A great addition for any library with a strong fantasy following.” —School Library Journal


“Siobhan is the true star of this novel, narrating the tale with off-beat humor and a believable teen voice…. Readers who enjoy world-building will enjoy the attention Johnston gives to infusing history and contemporary life with dragons.” —VOYA

The New York Times Book Review

“The promising ‘Story of Owen’ is a clever first step in the career of a novelist who, like her troubadour heroine, has many more songs to sing.” —The New York Times Book Review

Quill and Quire

“Johnston has created a whip-smart, witty, and utterly inventive alternate history. If this stellar debut is any indication, hers looks to be a bright, long-burning career.” —starred, Quill & Quire


“Johnston’s masterful book is a refreshing blend of alternative history, high fantasy, and contemporary teen life. Johnston has done careful research for her intricate world building, and the result is strikingly original and believable.” —starred, Booklist

The Horn Book Magazine

“…nothing short of epic.” —The Horn Book Magazine

Publishers Weekly

“Siobhan’s narration sings thanks to her dry wit, intelligence, and ability to see the inherent musicality of life, while also commenting on the unreliability of history (and storytelling) and the power of a community to rally to save itself.” —starred, Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

“Humor, pathos and wry social commentary unite in a cleverly drawn, marvelously diverse world.” —starred, Kirkus Reviews