|Title: The Magic and the Healing|
Author: Nick O'Donohoe
Publication: Firebird, 1994
BJ Vaughan is in her last year of vet school. After learning of her mother having the genetic disease Huntington’s chorea and subsequent suicide, she fails her first ever class. Grappling with the high likelihood of having the disease herself, she decides to drop out of vet school. Enter Dr. Sugar Dobbs and the proposition of a very special, very selective large-animal rotation. He convinces her to join the rotation with what appears to be a broken Unicorn horn.
The rotation ends up being in Crossroads, a mythical land where fairytale and magical creatures, along with humans, make their home. The group consists of 4 students, BJ, Dave, Lee Ann and Annie, with Dr. Dobbs supervising. As they work on strange and normal cases alike, they come to find that Crossroads is on the brink of war and their very safety is in danger. Throughout their rotation, BJ contemplates her life and how she will end it. Grappling with the decision to kill herself, can she save Crossroads? Or will she suffocate at the hands of Huntington’s chorea as Crossroads’ doom is upon them?
I must admit that this book has been sitting on my shelf for almost 2 years now. Every time I needed something new to read, I would just pass over it. Finally, I picked it up and vowed to read it. Though I was not expecting much, the story presented was not at all what I had imagined. It is more of a drama with bits of fantasy woven in. There was so much medical terminology that I became bogged down and utterly confused by it. O’Donohoe seems to have skipped over developing additional characters besides BJ and his world of Crossroads in favor of packing in as much medical words as possible. If I was a vet student and understood half of it, I think I would have enjoyed the story more.
I also found some of the scenes a bit confusing, especially the first scene featuring centaurs, known as Hippoi. Not only did I find the scene slightly gruesome and a bit too detailed for my taste, but I also found that O’Donohoe’s use of names were confusing. I even re-read that section and still found that it appeared he got the names confused or switched himself, making it increasingly difficult for the reader to understand that scene.
It’s not all bad. Once I got about halfway through it and the story started to pick up speed I quite enjoyed it. I only wish there was that much action in the first half. Overall, not a bad read, but definitely not something I would pick up again. In order to balance out my negativity, Alex at Geek on the Brink wrote a lovely review here.