Doon by Carey Corp & Lorie Langdon
So good so good so so so good!
Doon‘s synopsis promised pretty much everything I’d like. Scotland? Magic? Medieval castles? Princes? Romance? Best friends? Basically all of my favourite things to read wrapped up in one paperback package? And it came to me with a lot of hype, but for some reason despite all this I just…never read it.
BUT NOW I HAVE AND IT WAS GRAND.
The story follows Vee and Kenna, two best friends who are spending summer at Kenna’s late aunt’s home in Alloway, Scotland. Vee’s been seeing an apparition of sorts of a hot blonde Scotsman everywhere and it’s her ‘hallucinations’, a mysterious letter, and a magical set of rings that send she and Kenna over the Brig O’ Doon and into the magical hidden kingdom of Doon. But of course, as with any good magic kingdom, evil is awakening and the girls must find a way to stop it or risk destroying Doon and being trapped in its ruins forever. Dun dun dunnnnn.
Apparently this is a retelling of/inspired by the 1947 broadway musical Brigadoon that I had no idea even existed so I’m not familiar with the original text. That said, I can’t vouch for how much of a nod it gives to its predecessor or whether or not it gives the tale justice. But I did a little research and it seems like Corp and Langdon accurately delivered on all the major story elements so I would hope that if you do know the original you’ll be happy with Doon.
Me? I’ve just been sitting around bemoaning the lack of technology back in the ’40s that’s prevented me from finding some kind of YouTube bootleg of the OBC *insert cry face*
Vee and Kenna as MCs/heroines are just about all I could have asked for. They have two completely different personalities–Vee’s a reader, a dreamer, a dancer, and a believer while Kenna’s a showgirl and a skeptic–and senses of humour but both of them are lively and tons of fun to read. It’s also nearly impossible to pick a favourite viewpoint despite their distinctness because you very quickly get to know and connect with both of them, but also because they are similarly tenacious and brave (major points for MCs) even though they display it in different ways. If you forced my hand I might be inclined to say I favoured Vee but that is only because I saw most of myself in her. And it wasn’t long into the book before Kenna rapidly gained an edge and brought up a tie.
But what’s more is the way they truly resemble the whole BFF thing in not just their actions, but in all their thoughts as well, and neither is written to overshadow the other. I love the best friend dynamic in books because it gives the characters someone to lean on and rely on, a different outlook on things, and often a little bit of extra humour but unfortunately a lot of the time the best friend doesn’t feel like they’re meant to be their own character, but rather they exist solely to further the MC. Doon is a little different from the start because both girls are the main characters but even when both friends have POVs one sometimes takes a backseat to the other. That doesn’t happen here. Doon is Vee’s book, but Kenna plays a HUGE part in all of it too and she has her own story/’quest’ to fulfill. More than that, every step of the way they’re thinking about each other and supporting each other and defending each other and encouraging each other–very little is done without the other kept in mind. And you know what? I think I fell more in love with their friendship than any of the romances or character alone. That’s another reason it’s impossible to choose between them: they’re so twined together you couldn’t separate them if you tried. Why would you want to?
The romance here is absolutely ADORABLE! A little intense and rapidly-progressing but cute and swoon-y all the same. The two laird brothers, Jamie (a little more reserved and practical at first but very much in love) and Duncan (hilarious, all-in, beyond charming, a lot to handle but a lot of fun) are the love interests for the two girls and both give decidedly different relationships that are equally endearing (though Kenna’s got my vote here). There’s insta-love which can be obnoxious–and a whole soul mate element which is often an obnoxious excuse for the obnoxiousness of the insta-love–but I thoroughly enjoyed their relationships so much I’ll let it slide. For those of you with utter aversions to that kind of thaaaaang, at least one party in each pairing adores the other from the get-go but their lurve takes a while to actually get started. Granted (especially in Vee’s case) it moves really really really quickly to epic proportions so…yeah–be warned.
The story is great and I loved it which is funny because it’s not particularly complex. Doon is hidden from the real world by magic connected to an evil witch whose magic gets stronger as the centennial (the one day every 100 years that the bridge opens) approaches. So, naturally, because this is a book, the witch is going to stir up some toil and trouble. The general direction of the plot is largely predictable though there are a number of surprises along the way which keeps it interesting. It’s not altogether suspenseful and a lot of it comes at you all at once at the end (which, I concede, would have been nice to see throughout the novel so the ending would be more exciting and intense) but dammit if I didn’t enjoy it! Doon is very much character-focused so that definitely plays a factor but I think I was just so busy being wrapped up in this magical medieval Scottish world and all the great and hilarious people it brought me to really pay much notice.
Besides, as much as we readers complain about certain tropes there’s a reason they’re tropes in the first place: because we like to read them.
I had so much fun reading Doon! The characters are so great to read, the friendship is exactly what a good friendship should be, the romance–though sudden–is positively adorable, the setting is unique and magical, and the writing keeps you laughing all the time. Even the abundant clichés hardly bothered me because I was too busy grinning and laughing and enjoying myself to be irritated. Doon may not be the absolute best, most complex book I’ve read this past while but it was the most thoroughly enjoyable reading experience I’ve had in quite some time and for that I can’t recommend it enough!
Click here for the book synopsis on goodreads!