skygiants: the aunts from Pushing Daisies reading and sipping wine on a couch (wine and books)
[personal profile] skygiants
When I was young I was formatively influenced by a portal fantasy trilogy by Nick O'Donohoe in which vet students go patch up unicorns and griffins. However, my personal copies disappeared mysteriously sometime in the two thousands. For years I have been scouring libraries and used bookstores, but the only one I could find was the third book in the trilogy. This did me absolutely no good if I wanted to embark on a complete reread, which I absolutely wanted to do (especially after [personal profile] rachelmanija's recent reread.)

However! As of my recent trip to Powell's in Portland, I finally hit the jackpot! So I've just reread the first one, The Magic And the Healing, and will be progressing on accordingly.

The heroine of the The Magic and the Healing is West Virginia vet student BJ Vaughan, who is on the verge of failing out of med school because she's just learned that she has a strong genetic risk factor for Huntington's chorea and is, as a result, incredibly depressed.

Before she can drop out of school, however, she is invited on a mysterious special rotation with Cool Professor Sugar Dobbs, who dumps a unicorn horn and some mythological material in her lap and tells her to be ready to present next week. Shortly thereafter, BJ and her classmates are making regular trips back and forth to the land of Crossroads, where Magic Is Real but Centaurs Still Might Need Prenatal Care.

Other vet students include:

Lee Ann, the extremely Southern one
Annie, the extremely Christian one
Dave, the extremely bro-y one (I feel like there's maybe a rule that all portal fantasies featuring several university students need to include one bro-y guy named Dave)
Laurie, the cool cynical older one who is not actually in the rotation, appears for literally one scene early on in the book, and towards the end is suddenly revealed to have been having a star-crossed love affair with a griffin the entire time! Mercedes Lackey, eat your heart out!
DeeDee, the sugary-sweet one who is also not actually in the rotation, appears for all of two scenes early on in the book, and towards the end is suddenly revealed to have been helping the Big Bad steal morphine from the lab for the purpose of creating a drug-addicted werewolf army, for absolutely no reason that I can remember; I don't actually think DeeDee's motivations are ever explained! LET ALONE how she knew about Crossroads to begin with! I'm not really mad about this, I find it kind of hilariously emblematic of Nick O'Donohue's approach to portal fantasy stuff -- like, stuff and people are going back and forth between Crossroads and West Virginia all the damn time, and our heroes are trying so hard to stealthily sneak griffins in for surgery or whatever, and then it turns out basically EVERYONE RANDOM SIDE CHARACTER IN THE BOOK already knows that there's a magical land just down the road anyway! How? SOMEHOW. The faun waitress goes to our local church every Sunday, it's fine.

So, A-plot is BJ discovering magical wonders while also dealing with depression, suicidal ideation, and the possibility of having an incurable, eventually fatal genetic disease; and then the B-plot is a jaunty story about our ragtag band of vet students jaunting between Crossroads and West Virginia, bonding with the locals and each other, and flailing about how to apply their current real-world veterinary knowledge to mythological species.

And then there is a C-plot about an invading army that wants to come to Crossroads and murder everybody in its path, but it's almost hilariously irrelevant for most of the book until you get to the end and suddenly our ragtag band of vet students have to join in pitched! battle!! for the survival of Crossroads!!! right before they all graduate and go off to join local vet practices. Like honestly you could probably just skip the occasional chapters where the king of Crossroads goes undercover in the evil army and you would not be missing a thing, nobody cares about this, get us back to the logistical challenges of getting the appropriate blood type for griffin blood transfusions already!

Anyway, spoiler alert, Crossroads is saved and BJ doesn't die. My memory of the next two books in these series is that stuff keeps on happening A LOT; I don't remember just about anything that happens in the second one, but the third one is burned into my memory for what remains (to me) one of the most bizarre romantic plot twists of all time. I'm looking forward to the experience!

Date: 2017-02-20 01:51 am (UTC)
percysowner: (Default)
From: [personal profile] percysowner
Wow! This sounds like something I would love to read, if it were findable.

Date: 2017-02-20 02:45 am (UTC)
rachelmanija: (Anime is serious)
From: [personal profile] rachelmanija
I look forward to your review of book two, which I found awesomely depressing.

I have no idea what Dee's motivations were, come to think of it, or how the hell Morgan found her/she found Morgan. I think Dee was addicted to morphine herself but I don't know why she was stealing it for Morgan. The obvious reason is that Morgan was paying her (in gold?) but I don't think this is ever actually stated.

Laurie is a student? For some reason I thought she was a young professor. Or something.

Date: 2017-02-20 05:34 am (UTC)
rachelmanija: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rachelmanija
Oh, yeah, you're right. Well, now I really have no idea. I'm going to go with money. Lots of money. I guess Morgan just wanted to drug-addict her wolfsoldiers so she sent someone out to find a vet student with no morals? It's not like Crossroads is that hard to get in and out of. Everyone says it is, but people are coming and going left and right.

Date: 2017-02-20 08:00 am (UTC)
graycardinal: Shadow on asphalt (Default)
From: [personal profile] graycardinal
There is a small but nonzero possibility that those used to be my copies of that trilogy, unwisely culled some while back. (I still own, however, a copy of O'Donohoe's other even weirder book, Too Too Solid Flesh ....the Asinovian-android-actor murder mystery set in a production of Hamlet.)

Date: 2017-02-20 09:52 pm (UTC)
rachelmanija: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rachelmanija
I thought that one was really good. It has some gender issues, but as a work of literature, it's very successful. Very intense, dark atmosphere, but consistent and not in a accidentally hilariously OTT way.

Date: 2017-02-23 03:15 am (UTC)
elsane: clouds, brilliance, and the illusion of wings. (Default)
From: [personal profile] elsane
I have that one! I would give it to you! I am not actually sure how to, from state A, extract it from my parents' house in state B, and convey it to you in state C. bother.

Date: 2017-03-19 02:36 am (UTC)
elsane: clouds, brilliance, and the illusion of wings. (Default)
From: [personal profile] elsane
I will retrieve it from my parents' house next time I visit them, and hang onto it for the next time I come through state C! It would be lovely to see you, and hopefully next time I will not be quite so tired and preoccupied as the last time (hope springs eternal).

Date: 2017-04-08 03:46 am (UTC)
elsane: clouds, brilliance, and the illusion of wings. (Default)
From: [personal profile] elsane
(it would indeed be lovely to see you! At some point I will circle back through state C and I will collect the book from my parents' house next time I am there; inevitably, I will forget to bring it with me to state C, but then I will have another excuse to try again.)

Date: 2017-03-08 12:17 pm (UTC)
cyprinella: White coffee cup and saucer with animated steam rising from the cup (coffee cup)
From: [personal profile] cyprinella
The first one in the series may have been mine because I know I purged mine around then and sent a bunch of books off to Powell's.

Date: 2017-02-20 06:25 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
From: [personal profile] sovay
When I was young I was formatively influenced by a portal fantasy trilogy by Nick O'Donohoe in which vet students go patch up unicorns and griffins.

I still haven't managed to read the third book (or re-read the first two) since [personal profile] rachelmanija's review, but every time I think about this series, it feels more and more like two diametrically opposing kinds of idfic stuck inside the same covers.

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