It's been quite a while!
Author: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon
Release date: 20th of August 2013
Series: Doon #1
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Romance, Fantasy, YA
Published by: HarperCollins Publishing
Pages: 416 in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle
Veronica doesn't think she's going crazy. But why can't anyone else see the mysterious blond boy who keeps popping up wherever she goes? When her best friend, Mackenna, invites her to spend the summer in Scotland, Veronica jumps at the opportunity to leave her complicated life behind for a few months.
But the Scottish countryside holds other plans.
Not only has the imaginary kilted boy followed her to Alloway, she and Mackenna uncover a strange set of rings and a very unnerving letter from Mackenna's great aunt—and when the girls test the instructions Aunt Gracie left behind, they find themselves transported to a land that defies explanation. Doon seems like a real-life fairy tale, complete with one prince who has eyes for Mackenna and another who looks suspiciously like the boy from Veronica's daydreams. But Doon has a dark underbelly as well. The two girls could have everything they've longed for...or they could end up breaking an enchantment and find themselves trapped in a world that has become a nightmare.
So, I was flying to Scotland, my first time there, and thought a nice Scottish setting for a quick flight read would be a perfect idea and get me on the wavelength of my destination. Well, "Doon" did just that and, unfortunately, sort of didn't. The story line with a magical kingdom, princes in kilts, soulmates and magic are definitely wonderful mood setters for the land of Jamie Frasers, but the story itself was disappointingly weak and juvenile.
Basically, the story didn't surprise me in any way, neither did it distract me enough with positive aspects for me to close one eye for the glaring cliches and seen-a-million-times-already tropes. The latter mostly followed their typical mold and didn't upgrade or offer any new perspectives. As I said, the book had potential and it seems almost impossible to go wrong with sexy Scottish guys and wonderful highland castles, but setting alone doesn't make a story, characters, their relationships, dialogue and the basic outline of the plot also have input. I'm genuinely sad, because all the latter aspects were lacking a bit or quite a lot.
Surprisingly enough, I quite liked Veronica and Mackenna, even though they kind of blended into one a lot and I got confused on who was currently narrating. There just wasn't satisfactory differences between them that I could constantly feel and that would help me to tell them apart. Yes, one liked theater and the other dancing, but that was basically where the major pinpoint-able differences ended. Also, Veronica was a bit too troubled, with her alcoholic mother, sleazebag future step-dad, cheating boyfriend, druggie father, etc. Dual narrating by the two main female characters was a fresh idea, though. Also, having two romances in one story is always a bonus in my eyes.
Now to the guys. Duncan was lovable and cheerfuly charming, so I liked him. Jamie was a little difficult to warm up to, mostly due to his hostile treatment of supposed soulmate Veronica. He treats her bad, for all the noble reasons of course, and she takes it like a champ or, in common language, doormat. I didn't in any shape or form get the impression that they were destined to be together. I didn't buy it. Their ending was kind of sweet and Cinderella-ish, though, so there's that. Needless to say, I preferred Duncan and Mackenna's love-dance. Firstly, it was cute, teasing, less angsty and believable. Secondly, their story wasn't finished, so there's time to develop their relationship and not solely rely on the word "soulmates" to explain their romance.
The setting as well had it's issues. It simply didn't feel real, which, of course, it isn't supposed to, being a magical parallel world and all, but it came across superficial and fake. They had sushi, their own local pizzeria, modern toilets, etc. Good plumbing is always a win for the characters, but not for me as a reader, because adding these details made it difficult to take the setting seriously. It helped loose the mysterious cursed magical kingdom charm. It also made a lot of things too convenient. Adding here the rings, the journal and other factors, convenience was at times a real issue, even tough, some of the artifacts were quite intriguing (eg. the rings). Also, I would have preferred less time spent of having the girls be tourists, because a lot of time was spent on so called excursions.
Now, for some good parts, which contrary to my previous tone, weren't completely lacking. I really liked the twist in the end and the choice the girls had to make. One of their decisions I was very satisfied with, because it was realistic and didn't make things too easy. The final act was also pretty intense. Finally, I genuinely liked the premise, which could have been executed considerably better, but it was a promising idea.