AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
4 out of 5
Doctor Who: Dead Of Winter
An original adventure featuring Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor and his companions Amy and Rory. When the TARDIS crashlands the Doctor and his companions find themselves at an 18th Century seaside hospital where people are being miraculously cured of consumption. It soon becomes apparent that there is something sinister going on involving the patients and the mysterious figures in the sea mist.
Here the author's masterstroke is to present this story as a correspondence novel, which is to say a novel composed of excerpts from the journals, memories and letters of the characters. As it does in Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' (one of my favourite books), this allows the author to present the mystery to us in pieces, with each character's point of view revealing a bit more of the truth but with none of them having the full story. This structure makes for an interesting and compelling novel which manages to be as chilling and spooky as some of the best TV episodes of Who ("Are you my mummy?").
The only real downside to this book, and the reason I've not given it full marks, is the depiction of the relationship between the Doctor and Rory. It's almost as if Goss had it explained to him that Rory's jealous of the Doctor, who in turn resents Rory's intrusion into his fun with Amy and the author just wrote it as literally that. What's missing is the Doctor's affection for Rory (based on the fact he makes Amy happy) and Rory's faith in the Doctor. As a result, their interactions here do not sit comfortably. As Goss writes them, Rory more or less thinks the Doctor is a monster and the Doctor is, at one point, unconcerned by Rory's impending death.
4 out of 5
Doctor Who: The Blood Cell
A Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) adventure featuring his companion Clara. The Governor of an asteroid prison facility becomes increasingly frustrated by technical failures and by the arrogance of his newest inmate, Prisoner 428 AKA the Doctor. However, the technical failures soon become life-threatening and suspicion falls on the Doctor, who has been sentenced to the prison for causing countless deaths.
In Goss' previous book 'Dead of Winter' he used the correspondence of new characters to tell the story from outside the perspectives of the Doctor or his companions. The author basically just uses the same trick here but, in truth, I can forgive the lack of originality due to the execution. Because the story is told from the point of view of the prison Governor, we really get a sense of how frustrating it would be for an authority figure to butt heads with the irascible Twelfth Doctor. Capaldi's incarnation is bafflingly unpopular in some circles, but I loved it and here we get to see all of that incarnation's obstinance, outrage and sarcasm on full display. I particularly enjoyed the scene where he's trying to talk down an armed prison guard and assures her that he has always had the utmost respect for people who carry guns, followed by an unsubtle wink to Clara.
This isn't a perfect book and there are a number of plot holes and unlikely leaps of logic within it, but overall I found it quite enjoyable.
4 out of 5