It Happened One Doomsday: This urban fantasy goes vroom-vroom

It Happened One Doomsday by Laurence MacNaughtonIt Happened One Doomsday by Laurence MacNaughton

It Happened One Doomsday is the first book I’ve read by Laurence MacNaughton. It looks like most of his other work would be classified as supernatural thrillers, although Conspiracy of Angels has a definite urban fantasy vibe. It Happened One Doomsday lands on the border of urban fantasy and paranormal romance, with a brisk plot and characters who are, for the most part, likeable. The story relies on the old biblical story of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and by far my favorite thing in this book are the steeds of the horsemen; instead of riding dragons or generic monsters (or even motorcycles), the four horsemen drive muscle cars.

“A 1969 Dodge Daytona,” he said. When she didn’t reply right away he seemed to mistake her silence for encouragement. “It’s basically an aerodynamic, Hemi-powered Charger. When it was built it was so fast NASCAR outlawed it. I restore old cars, especially Mopars*. That’s what I do.”

“Hmm.” She nodded, trying to look fascinated.

Dru Jasper runs a crystal and herb shop in Denver. Dru is extremely knowledgeable about magic but considers her own magical skills negligible. Her specialty is crystals. When hunky Greyson drives his Dodge Daytona into her life, Dru will have to use all her magical ability to save the world. Fortunately, proximity to Greyson seems to supercharge her ability. At stake? The apocalypse, as the four horsemen are set to rise. Unfortunately, handsome, sexy, leather-wearing Greyson has been cursed, and will transform permanently into one of the horsemen in the next six days, if Dru and her friends can’t stop it.

MacNaughton dumps us straight into the plot, and I liked that. It Happened One Doomsday moves quickly, with the stakes getting higher with every chapter. Dru’s relationship with her dentist boyfriend is on the line; her shop, her livelihood, even her life. And, of course, the world as we know it.A Dru Jasper Novel by Laurence MacNaughton

I enjoyed this book, but what I loved were the muscle cars. Certainly haunted and demonic cars are staples of the fantasy genre, but the verve and style of these cars, especially Greyson’s car Hellbringer, which has a mind of its own, stood out. And of course, once you have a high-powered, growling demonic car, don’t you have to have a road trip? This story makes the most of that trope.

I also liked Dru’s use of crystals and minerals. This is also a familiar element in many fantasies but MacNaughton chose different semi-precious stones, and Dru uses them in unique ways. One of my favorites is her use of “TV stone,” uxelite. Uxelite, whose long fibers behave like fiber-optic tubes, is one of my favorite rocks, and Dru uses it for magical seeing; a perfect pairing of the real rock with a magical use.

There were a few things I didn’t like. The character of Rane, who is magically “indestructible,” grated on me. She is supposed to be a bit crude and clueless, and MacNaughton succeeded too well. By the final third of the book I began to think that the author is setting up a long love triangle here; Dru, Greyson and Rane, and given the ending, that is certainly possible in future books. Rane grew on me a little, but she is so annoying in the early chapters, and Dru so spineless in dealing with her, that it nearly made me put the book down. That would have been a shame, because I would have missed Greyson’s car, the creepy house in the desert, Dru’s growing power and confidence, a tense, suspenseful climax and an ending that certainly hints that things are not complete.

And the cars. Did I mention the cars?

It Happened One Doomsday clearly leaves enough open for a future book, and I hope at least one demonic car will feature in it. Vroom-vroom!

*Mopar is a category of Chrysler vehicles that includes Chargers, Jeeps and Ram Trucks, based on Chrysler’s buyout of American Motors in 1987.

Publication date: July 12, 2016. Magic is real. A handful of sorcerers wield arcane power against demons and the forces of darkness. These protectors of the powerless are the best magic-users in the world. Unfortunately, Dru isn’t one of them. She’s got magical potential. She uses crystals to see enchantments, and she can research practically anything in the library in the back of her little store, sandwiched between a pawnshop and a 24-hour liquor mart. She sells enough crystals, incense, and magic charms to scrape by.  Everything changes the day a handsome mechanic pulls up in a possessed black muscle car, his eyes glowing red. Just being near Greyson raises Dru’s magical powers to dizzying heights. But he’s been cursed to transform into a demonic creature that could bring about a fiery doomsday. There’s only one chance to break Greyson’s curse—and it’s about to fall into Dru’s inexperienced hands. . .

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MARION DEEDS, with us since March 2011, is retired from a 35-year career with county government, where she met enough interesting characters and heard enough zany stories to inspire at least two trilogies’ worth of fantasy fiction. Currently she spends part of her time working at a local used bookstore. She is an aspiring writer herself and, in the 1990s, had short fiction published in small magazines like Night Terrors, Aberrations, and in the cross-genre anthology The Magic Within. On her blog Deeds & Words, she reviews many types of books and follows developments in food policy and other topics.

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5 comments

  1. Thanks for the great review, Marion! I’m so glad you enjoyed IT HAPPENED ONE DOOMSDAY. You might be interested to know that Hellbringer was inspired by an actual car built by a guy named Mr. Angry. Here’s a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IfpqBTVt3E

    Since I used to be a professional prototype vehicle test driver, I’m sure you can imagine that all of the car stuff was incredibly fun to write, and I’m excited to announce that Book 2 is definitely a go. So you’ll be seeing more of Dru, Hellbringer and (gasp) Greyson soon!

    By the way, I’m also giving away a free prequel short story called MAGIC CARPET RIDE. No car stuff, but Dru gets into serious sorcery trouble with a … Well, the title says it all. :) Come check it out at http://www.laurencemacnaughton.com

    • Laurence, Mr. Angry? I will have to check that out. Hellbringer was awesome and I am glad to hear there will be another book in the series.

      Looking forward to reading that short story!

  2. This is the second “four horseman” themed book published this year (that I’m aware of; I’m sure there are others). I wonder if this is the start of a new trend in literature, as a replacement for vampires or zombies?

    • Vamps and Zombies both should take a “gap” year, and as long as the Horsemen are original, I’m all for giving them a chance.

      The “rogue” magicians in the NOW YOU SEE ME series were called The Four Horsemen and I thought that was a strange choice.

      • At least a gap year, though I’d be happy with four or five. :)

        I’d completely forgotten about those magicians! Probably because it was such a strange choice of name for their little group.

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