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Sonderbooks Book Review of

The Magic and the Healing

by Nick O'Donohoe


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The Magic and the Healing

by Nick O'Donohoe

Reviewed January 14, 2008.
Firebird, New York, 2006. First published in 1994. 324 pages.

BJ Vaughan is packing up her stuff, ready to leave vet school forever. Her mother committed suicide before she could be overcome by the symptoms of a genetic disease she might have passed to BJ. Unable to focus, BJ failed her small animal rotation, and figures she might as well call it quits.

Then Dr. Dobbs calls her into his office and asks her to work on a special rotation he’s supervising. He shows her a horn.

She barely noticed; the horn had taken her over. “A land animal. Antelope have two like this, generally darker. Goats have two, but they curve more in any of the goats I know–”

She had her first suspicion of what it was. She shivered, and the shiver turned into cold certainty. Of course. She should have guessed it long ago. It was obvious, except–

Except that there weren’t any.

BJ accepts Dr. Dobbs’ assignment and finds herself traveling with a group of veterinary students into Crossroads, a place between worlds, where impossible creatures exist and need their help.

Here’s a fantasy book with a twist of James Herriot. There’s a dark side to this book, as someone has sinister plans for Crossroads, and the students get in the way. You can’t help liking BJ and her companions– her consistent reaction is to help ease suffering, with no thought to her own safety.

This book has more of a feel of fantasy for adults, though it’s published by a Young Adult imprint. This isn’t fairy tale fantasy, but a somewhat grittier look at what it would be like to practice veterinary medicine on creatures like griffins and werewolves.

An absorbing and intriguing story.