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 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 ( spoiler? )
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 ( more spoiler! )
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!