AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
4 out of 5
Doctor Who: Plague City
An original adventure starring Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor and his companions Bill and Nardole. A miscalculation drops the TARDIS travellers in Edinburgh amid the plague of 1645. On top of the human tragedy and sorrow, they soon discover that the recently deceased are returning as ghostly apparitions, unaware of their own deaths and there is also a mysterious figure known as the Night Doctor who visits the dying mere hours before the end. The Doctor and his friends have to get to the bottom of the mystery whilst trying to resist the urge to change history and save the dying.
The Twelfth Doctor is my favourite (he's grumpy and sarcastic, how could I not love him?) and Morris captures the tone of Capaldi's incarnation perfectly here. Everything from his intolerance for ignorance, his old-married-couple relationship with Nardole and his deep heartfelt empathy are brilliant conveyed in this book. His companions here are also done great justice, with Bill being headstrong, empathetic and unafraid to challenge the Doctor whenever she disagrees with him and then we have Nardole, who was the heart of the TARDIS team and is very much that here.
The setting for the story is very evocative, with the dark streets of plague-ridden Edinburgh being an atmospheric backdrop to the core mystery; even if it did feel a little too similar to the Tenth Doctor story 'The Many Hands' by Dale Smith at times. At first I wasn't sold on the grief-leeches, but their disgusting malevolence actually does add quite a strong note of peril to the story. I did like the concept of the other alien the protagonists encounter but I have to call Morris out on the absolutely terrible name; 'Psycholops'.
Overall a solid and enjoyable historical adventure for a TARDIS team whom I love.
4 out of 5
Doctor Who: Touched By An Angel
An Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) story featuring Amy and Rory. The TARDIS travellers encounter Mark Whitaker, a man being pursued by a Weeping Angel and when Mark is thrown back in time within his own lifetime, the Doctor and his companions have to figure out what the Angels are up to, whilst simultaneously preventing Mark from derailing the course of history.
I was wary of a Weeping Angel-focused novel purely on the basis that the TV appearances of these brilliant antagonists had distinctly diminishing returns. Also, a lot of what made them so creepy in their best appearance, 'Blink', was to do with how they were visually portrayed. However, despite my misgivings, Morris delivers a story which really does capture not only the malevolence of the Angels, but also the tension of their ability to move rapidly whenever you look away or blink. I think it's because the author uses them fairly sparingly that he manages to retain their menace.
The other element which made 'Blink' such an iconic episode of the series was the cunning plotting (hats off to Steven Moffat) of the 'wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey' stuff. Morris leans heavily into that aspect here to great effect, making the true heart of this story about Mark who is forced to relive his relationship with the love of his life as an out-of-time observer, knowing that she will die in a car accident. As readers we're given the chance to explore the entirety of the love between these two people, from friendship to flirtation to romance to marriage, always with the knowledge of the tragedy waiting in the future. It's handled brilliantly and you really feel how heartbroken the Doctor is, knowing that he has to ensure that Mark's wife dies to prevent a paradox.
This book does justice to all of its core elements when it could so easily have failed in any or all of them. Morris even nails Rory's weary sarcasm!
4 out of 5