Pub. Date: August 20th, 2013
I was sincerely excited for this book. I loved the Alice in Wonderland, Princess Bride kind of feel I got from the synopsis. But Doon is more Twilight melodrama, than Alice in Wonderland fantasy world building – which isn’t a bad thing; it just wasn’t what I was expecting. The writing was solid and consistent, but as a reader, I was left looking for more fantasy from this ‘fantasy’.
Discontent with her life at home, Veronica wonders if she’s going crazy when she starts randomly seeing a strange Scottish boy telling her to come to Doon. Jumping at her best friend McKenna’s invitation to spend the summer in Scotland at her recently inherited Aunt Gracie’s home, the girls soon find a set of rings and Gracie’s old diary, telling the story of a hidden land over a bridge called Doon. At the mention of Doon Veronica knows the boy she has been seeing is real, and feels compelled to find Doon and him. McKenna on the other hand is not convinced Doon really exists. Finding and crossing the bridge to Doon is easy compared to getting both of Doon’s Princes, Jamie and Duncan, to believe they are in Doon with good intentions. Prince Jamie – Veronica’s dream boy – is especially hard to convince because he suspects they were sent by Doon’s evil witch to destroy his land. The girls know there’s a reason they found Doon, and they need to figure it out before the witch destroys them all.
Was this novel cute and entertaining – Yes. Does that mean I loved it? No. For a novel that was about another land, there is so little description of Doon, and next to no world building. Doon is basically our world with a very high Scottish population. I found the narrator distinctions included at the beginning of each chapter to be distracting and unnecessary because the girls are in the same place, talking to each other for the majority of the novel, and when they aren’t, the speaker is clear. The pacing of the novel also didn’t really work for me. I found it much too slow. Near the end of the novel McKenna references how in plays everything builds to one major event. I assumed this reference foreshadowed a major event at the end of the novel. But, getting their took too long for me, and I found the major events to be unsurprising, predictable and not entirely worth the extensive buildup.
Narrative-wise, the characters were the selling point and they are what truly kept me reading. I appreciated the girls intelligent, capable, strong-minded characterizations. What fell short in the narrative was the ‘magic’, or what is described as the power of Doon’s ‘Protector’. The magical elements from ‘The Calling’ – where two people dream about their soul mate (aka Veronica’s dreams about Jamie), to the use of magic at the end of the novel, felt contrived. The magic was not backed up with enough logic, or explanation for me to find it effective. If we are supposed to just have faith in the magic, without explanations of the how’s and the whys, then I really did not have the faith.
I can see this novel working really well for teen romance lovers because the romances between the girls and the Princes are full of angsty goodness. But for readers looking for more action and world building in fantasy novels, I don’t think they will be satisfied.
Rating 5/10 – The aspects I liked, I really liked. The aspects I didn’t like, really frustrated me.
*** I received a copy of the novel from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was in no way compensated.