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In the sequel to The Magic and the Healing, BJ Vaughan has graduated from veterinary school and started her first practice…in the magical world of Crossroads. There she swiftly gathers experience in treating centaurs, unicorns, and other magical creatures. She has nothing else to do; BJ soon learns that leaving Crossroads means more than losing touch with the magic that keeps her Huntington’s disease at bay. Each time she goes back to her own world, the world of Virginia and Chicago, the disease picks up where it left off and begins killing her faster than ever. This calls for another hard decision for BJ – especially hard with her friends, family, and even the faun that she loves living in a world where she cannot stay.
Meanwhile, even though the evil warlord (warlady?) Morgan has been driven out of Crossroads, trouble continues to brew.
A race of unclean, uncouth, firebreathing klutzes – a chaos of chimeras – flies into town for their wantonly destructive mating season. A would-be witch begins to meddle with the climate – disrupting the migratory patterns of several creatures – and, even worse, applies herself to the magic of opening and closing strangeways, the roads between Crossroads and other worlds. A dominance struggle among the Wyr (think “werewolves”) results in BJ becoming surrogate mother to a carnivorous pup. Creatures needed for the defense of Crossroads are threatened. Creatures who should be extinct make an annoying entrance. Everyone from the ruminating deer people to the snaggle-toothed Meat People (who are surprisingly gentle, actually) senses another rising threat of invasion and war – and this time, they have to be prepared to lose. And how do they prepare? By emptying Crossroads of all its inhabitants.
BJ works herself to the bone, treating the casualties of Morgan’s slowly escalating attacks, while also helping Brandal the king, Stein the general, and that walker-between-worlds himself Mr. Fields, to guide one race after another to worlds where they can live in safety. So it is a book full of achingly sad farewells, spiced up by an occasional outbreak of violence and death. The menace builds, along with the vendetta between a young veterinarian who has nowhere else to go and a vicious psychopath who is only happy while washing her hands in blood.
If you’re looking for a book whose danger-charged atmosphere makes you squirm, a book that beguiles you with a sense of an inevitable yet mysterious outcome waiting to be unleashed, a book full of frustrated romance, tragic conflicts, creepy portents, and eye-popping magic, look no further than Under the Healing Sign, the second book in a trilogy that concludes with The Healing of Crossroads.