AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
3.8 out of 5
Doctor Who: Deep Blue
A Past Doctor Adventure featuring the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) and his companions Tegan and Turlough. Seeking respite from the trials of their recent adventures, the Doctor takes his companions to a British seaside town in the 1970s. However, rest is not an option as they and UNIT have to confront a horrifying alien infection.
This book definitely falls on the horror end of the spectrum of the Doctor's adventures, with elements that wouldn't be out of place in a Stephen King novel or in a sequel to John Carpenter's 'The Thing'. That alone may be enough to put some Who fans off and I often find that when the PDA try to go too adult they just fall flat, but it has to be said that this time around it worked for me. I often find the Fifth Doctor to be a bit dull and unengaging, but giving him a truly horrific situation to deal with actually brings out the best of this incarnation. Similarly, Tegan and Turlough, two companions I'm not a fan of, both have storylines which really play to their character traits and to their relationship with the Doctor.
The big downside to this book is the conclusion. It's all a bit rushed, a bit too convenient and a over a bit too quickly, as if, after unleashing hell on the seaside town of Tayborough Sands, the author found themselves at a loss as to how to pack it all away again. It's a disappointing end to an otherwise enjoyable science fiction horror story.
4 out of 5
Doctor Who: Forever Autumn
An original adventure featuring the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and his companion Martha Jones. In the American town of Blackwood Falls preparations for the annual Halloween festival are interrupted by a string of sinister and seemingly supernatural events. The Doctor and Martha arrive and have to figure out the source of the trouble before an explosion of horror leads to the destruction of the town.
From the gravestones and flaming Jack'o'Lantern on the cover of this book its clear that Morris is going for a creepy supernatural vibe and the author carries that perfectly into the story itself. Green mists, Halloween decorations, monster costumes and more add to the horror ambience of this book. The author also chooses to set it in an American town the likes of which are the setting for countless slasher flicks and also introduces us to a gang of teenagers caught up in the supernatural goings-on, like in 'It' or 'Stranger Things'.
My fear (pardon the pun) was that once the Doctor got involved, the spooky supernatural element would be dispelled by the far more science-based nature of his usual adventures. Aliens and technology rather than ancient evil magic. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Morris manages to nicely balance both the supernatural and the science fiction elements of the story perfectly.
A very worthy addition to the Doctor Who library.
4 out of 5
Doctor Who: Ghosts Of India
The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and his companion Donna go in search of a good curry and end up in 1947 India in this original adventure. With the tensions of the end of British rule, violence, disease and poverty, all around them, things become infinitely more complicated when they find themselves caught between an alien bounty hunter and his quarry.
Perhaps the best thing about this book is the historical setting that Morris gives it. India in the 1940s is a politically and spiritually charged place where social unrest clashes with imperial rule. The author then exploits this dramatic setting further by introducing a major figure of the 20th Century. The Doctor is always name-dropping important historical figures and here we actually get to see his meeting with one such luminary in the form of Mohandas K. Ghandi. The juxtaposition of the Doctor and Ghandi's respective wisdom, attitudes and philosophies makes for this book's best element.
This book is also the first prose adventure for Donna, who I think is hugely underrated as a companion. Sure, she's not as attractive as Amy or Martha, but she travels with the Doctor for the adventure of it, not because she has the hots for him. Its good to see her in action here, but I felt that Morris did focus a little too strongly on her loud abrasive qualities instead of her softer more compassionate side.
4 out of 5
Doctor Who: The Bodysnatchers
The third book of the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) Adventures. The Doctor and his teenage companion Sam travel to Victorian London to buy a copy of the Strand Magazine. However, they soon discover that a colony of shapeshifting Zygons is at work beneath the Thames and, with help from the Doctor's old friend George Litefoot, they attempt to stop the Zygon conquest of Earth.
This book has all the pieces in play for a great Doctor Who story; a murder mystery in Victorian London, a returning classic antagonist and the inclusion of a character from the classic TV series. It was odd then that it fell somewhat flat for me. I honestly can't point to anything that caused the book to be lesser than the sum of its parts (I do have a couple of down notes, which I'll discuss in a moment, but nothing major), and yet that was how it ultimately felt. It's not a bad book at all, but it just felt run-of-the-mill and unremarkable, which is a great shame given its potential.
It was nice to learn a bit more about the Zygons and their society. I suspect this may have been their first ever reoccurence since 'Terror of the Zygons' (novelised as 'Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster' by Terrance Dicks) and, it has to be said, later appearances by the 'big red rubbery things covered in suckers' pretty much ignore the new lore introduced here.
The two things that I would pick out as not working for me are the characters of Sam and Professor Litefoot. Litefoot is a perfectly good character, mind you, but I've never seen the Fourth Doctor story 'The Talons of Weng Chiang', nor read its novelisation. What this means is that the intended feeling of nostalgic warmth that Litefoot's return is supposed to engender was totally lost on me. Sam, on the other hand, is a somewhat stickier issue. I know she develops nicely in later books in the series, but here she's every bit the difficult teenager; argumentative, stubborn and self-righteous, all of which makes her very hard to like. Sam's teenage character traits also force you to really consider the fact that she's a schoolgirl who the Doctor has psuedo-kidnapped, which makes things feel a bit uncomfortable.
One criticism of this book that I've seen but don't agree with is people's negative response to the violence and gore within it. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of both, but the EDAs and the PDAs were always intended to be Who novels aimed at adults. It's only those books released since the show returned to TV in 2005 that have been geared to a wider age range.
3 out of 5