It 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.
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.