"Who was the real Jamie MacCrae? A ruthless ruler or a puckish prince?"I started reading this book because the premise promised originality. A Scotland-based setting with time travel and fantasy elements? Are you kidding me? Gimme that shit, y'all. Well, you know what they say about things being too good to be true: they usually are. The premise is original...but as we all know, originality alone doesn't mean it'll be good. In the context of this book, it doesn't approach good. It wouldn't be able to touch good with a 30-yard pole. This is going to be a long criticism, however much I try to restrain myself, because I have a lot to say about this book, and not much (almost none, really) that is positive.The setting is new and interesting, but it doesn't make any fucking sense. The characters---all 4 of them---are each a cliché. The entire book was altogether insufferably stupid and nonsensical. Not recommended at all.The settingsPresent day Scotland: The modern day Scotland in the book, what little of it there is, is beautifully described, but it is---as the book describes it...reminiscent of the Shire, and not in a good way. It is too picture-perfect. It is pretty, in an utterly touristy way. It is lovely and well-described, but completely lacking in life, in anything that would make it feel realistic. It is a Thomas Kinkade painting, utterly idealized and empty of spirit.Doon: Doon is not Scotland of the past, as I was led to believe when I first started reading the book. It is a version of it, which would not have been a bad thing, if not for its utter absurdity as a setting. If you come into the book expecting a facscimile of sense in the land of DoomDoon, you will be in for a severe letdown. To put it shortly: Doon is a fucking mess and a contradiction. We have modern ways, toilets and showers, combined with the mindset of the ancient world. You see, Doon is a poorly explained amalgamation of Scotland past and of the recent past of our own world. People have been traveling to Doon throughout history, from our world to theirs through a magical bridge every so often. As a result, Doon has modern conveniences like the aforementioned toilets; it has Asian inhabitants, Indian inhabitants, black inhabitants, as well as sushi (...) and pizzerias, completely with the requisite gregarious and bubbly pizza owner, Mario, who is a caricature of an Italian. Think Luigi Risotto from The Simpsons.“If I may, signori? It is a gigante mystery.” He illustrated his point by holding his hands wide apart and giving them a shake for emphasis. “As a young man, I was called to Doon from Napoli in 1915, during the last Centennial. I met la mia moglie---my future wife. Since then, I marry, make seven bambinis---babies..."However modern it is, whatever magic the people of Doon have seen, they are still firmly ingrained in the mindset of the past, despite everything they have seen and known. They believe that magic is witchcraft, they believe in predestination, a soulmate, a Calling. They are still willing to burn witches at stakes.The setting is a mess. The people portrayed are a fuck-filled mess of contradictory behaviors, and there is severe lack of sense and rationality. Doon is not quaint, it is not charming. It was not what I expected to read, because while I am prepared for an alternate setting, I like that setting to make sense and for its people to follow certain guidelines of reasonable behaviors. It is like watching The O.C. only to have the entire series be set in Little Saigon instead of Newport Beach. It may be technically accurate, but it's not what I fucking signed up for.The Characters: the main characters within the book perfect the art of contradiction. As I said above, every single one falls into an YA trope. They do not act consistently, they say and think one thing, and they do another.Veronica: aka Verranica as pronounced by our fucking James MacCrae. More on him later. She is the epitome of lovely innocent. She is beautiful, stunning, without knowing it. A daydreamer, a hopeless romantic.A believer in romance, despite being a wounded, broken girl.Despite suffering from a miserable past.Despite being unwanted by her alcoholic drug addict of a mother.Despite being leered upon by her soon-to-be-stepfather.Despite being abandoned by her biological father. Who is dead. Who was a drug addict.Despite having her best friend in the whole wide world move halfway across the country.Despite being publicly dumped and cheated on by her boyfriend in the school hallway not 5 seconds before she meets Jamie, kilted golden boy of Doon, in a vision, whom she then singlemindedly pursue all the way to Scotland.You name a tragedy, our Vee has seen it.Veronica is our first and main narrator, and I needed to rest my eyes after every 5 minutes of reading her parts because they were so tired from being rolled back into my head as I read her narration. She fucking swoons every 5 seconds over Jamie's chocolaty eyes, his locks of hair that falls over his eyes. His air of indifference. Despite his hostility, despite his professed ignorance of her and outright hostility upon meeting her, she cannot help but despair in her undeniable attraction to him, her soulmate! She's such a fucking martyr...despite KNOWING THAT THEY'RE MEANT TO BE, she so unselfishly gives him up, only to fucking moan and cry about it 2 seconds afterwards. She is a fucking TSTL Mary Sue of a moron. She would rather die as a possibly convicted witch in a foreign land than give up the chance at TWOO WUV.Of course, leaving [Doon] was preferable to death, but I wasn’t ready to give up on this place...or on him.ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?She is the most easily impressed character ever."[Jamie] smiled a sad, sweet smile. “I said, [your father]’s an idiot and he has no idea what an amazing daughter he has.” He said the words simply and with such sincerity that they washed over me like absolution. I closed my eyes, but the tears flowed hot over my cheeks anyway. How was it possible he knew the exact right thing to say? The words I’d secretly longed to hear, but hadn’t realized it until they came out of his mouth?So Jamie tells her that her dad misunderstands her and Vee's like HE KNOWS MY SOUL. WELL ALRIGHTY THEN.Veronica can't see past the pert little cheerleader nose on her face. She doesn't know the meaning of forward thinking. She is completely devoted to the cold, angry, emo boy Jamie, regardless of how much he acts like an asshole and how much he professes to hate her (he doesn't mean it...he can't mean it!!!!!!). I wanted to vomit.Mackenna: Vee's best friend since infancy, it seems. They're attached at the hips. Naturally, they are polar opposites. Mackenna is the practical, tomboyish, drama-addicted (if you are into musicals and Broadway plays, you can do your own scavenger hunts as to how many of them she name-drops in this book). Mackenna is the tall, protective, Amazonian BFF who doesn't realize how stunning she is (do we see a theme here?!?!?1?!1). She is meant to be humorous and brash, a stark contrast to Vee's dreamy impracticality...it didn't work for me. Mackenna's snark comes off as more annoying than humorous, more foot-in-mouth disease, more unintentionally stupid than anything. Really, is joking around when you're about to be killed for being a witch a wise idea? If she's meant to be practical, her character did not work in the least, because she is so insufferably idiotic. However, reading her narrative after Vee's makes Mackenna seem infinitely more tolerable and an Einstein in comparison. Regardless, I found her terribly brash, annoying, and not altogether likeable.James MacCrae: Lord, where do I start?So he's got an "incredible face," he is a "beautiful golden boy with the dark, wounded eyes." From the second Veronica and Mackenna enters his foreign land, where he is the crown prince, he has acted like "an arrogant boy who treated [them] worse than an ant he found crawling over his boot." Despite this being Scotland, he still looks like an emo boy, or more specifically... a boy wearing "dark pants and a black cloak with the hood pulled over his head, casting his entire face in shadow. He looked like a goth kid with a Jedi complex." Despite knowing that he is Veronica's intended (it is called a Calling, and commonly acknowledged in Doon to mean you've met your soulmate), Jamie denies it, and continue treating Vee crappily like the asshole son of a bitch that he is. He tells her one thing, says another. He says things intended to turn her away, and is absolutely infuriated (and blames HER) when she does run away.Jamie’s hot and cold act was draining. Every time he started to warm, to let me in the tiniest bit, he’d turn around and shut me out even harder. And why? What had I done? Except be nice to him and adore his kingdom.Doormat: meet Veronica. Veronica: meet doormat. You guys are twins, separated at birth. Fucking really, Veronica? The more I read about Jamie and Veronica's actions, the less respect I have for either of them.Duncan MacCrae: The handsome, perfect, golden, charming prince, who is utterly guileless, full of helpfulness and humor. I actually liked him a lot out of all the characters. He may be a trope, but he's so nice and inoffensive compared to the rest of the fucking idiots in this book that I really have no complaints about him at all, besides the fact that he lacked the common sense to not fall in love with Mackenna.The side characters: completely unoriginal, absolutely lacking in dimension and complexity. The villains, the good guys, the wise woman, the love rivals. None are remotely believable as real. Everyone is black or white. There is no complexity within any of the main characters, much less the secondary ones.The Romance: inconsistent. In the case of Mackenna and Duncan, it is somewhat understandable. Their characters interact well together, and so I can see them falling for each other eventually. In the case of the main characters, however, it is completely incredible. It is predestination, and we are told to buy it, hook, line, and sinker, without any explanation whatsoever. Jamie and Veronica are soul mates, they have visions of each other...and that alone is the sole basis for their relationship. We are expected to believe that they are Meant. To. Be. Without any proof. And when I say without any proof, I mean it. Jamie is a fucking idiot. He is constantly angry, always hostile towards Veronica, and their interactions are so limited that except for the fact that we are TOLD, again, not SHOWN, that they are supposed to be in love, we would not have known. Their relationship does not grow, it does not develop. Jamie is so outwardly against the idea of them that when he finally accepts it, their love is just not believable at all. This is not a romance.The Plot: this book should have a subtitle, as in Doon: a study in the art of being completely fucking dependent on Deus ex Machina as a plot device. Something unexplained happens? It's magic. Something doesn't make sense at all? It's magic. The main villain wants to conquer the world for no reason at all. OH, IT'S BECAUSE OF MAGIC, SOMEHOW. AAAAAAAAAAARGSKJGKJSGLGJLJSGFKLJADFK. IT DOESN'T EXPLAIN ANYTHING. The reasoning behind the evil wicked so very very very very bad (actual) witch that causes all the trouble in this book but doesn't really because the plot is actually a thinly contrived excuse for the romance between Vee and Jamie and Mackenna and Duncan and it's just an afterthought and it makes no fucking sense and there is no fucking urgency and there is so little fucking plot behind it that it's just extremely frustrating and so much so that I can't be fucked to formulate it into a fucking sentence that makes any reason or contains any punctuation because why should I fucking bother to make sense when the authors themselves don't even want to try?!Seriously, the plot is so utterly secondary to the romance. There is no sense of urgency to the imminent danger that the land of Doon is in. Yeah, there are villager disappearances, a few dead bodies thrown in here and there, but there is no intrigue, no exigency, no feeling that something bad is going to happen. There is a lot of telling, not a lot of showing. The mystery behind the journal and the rings were not compelling at all. It is never well-developed enough to be credible, and magic is used to explain anything that doesn't make sense, without making sense itself. Situations and their development reeked of irrationality and lacked any reasonable plot development. There is no character development, the characters just surrender to their emotions and fall into love without any character complexity that is supposed to have developed in between.The writing: full of grandiose statements that are just repeated clichéd sayings throughout the book, like “pure, unselfish love can break any spell" and "I just followed my heart" and "the heart calls to its soul mate." FOLLOW YOUR HEART, Y'ALL. IT WILL NEVER LEAD YOU WRONG. Besides that, the writing is juvenile. The speech is sprinkled with "ta's" for "to's," "fer's" for "for's," as well as "dinnas" and "kennas," which seems to be a prerequisite whenever any attempt at a Scottish dialect is made. The speech is inconsistent, gladly free of a try-hard attempt at really heavily accented brogue, but it is too modern, too inconsistent, and lacking in authenticity to feel like it's anything but a fake setting. I was not sold on anything in this book, so really, the dialogue and the dialect is the least of my complaints compared to everything else that went horribly wrong.The headache caused by this book, combined with my mind's constant incredulous monologue (shouted, not spoken) throughout the act of reading this book prevents me from recommending it to anyone but my most hated enemies.