Monday, 13 August 2012

Doctor Who: Dark Horizons Novel and audiobook review

A Doctor Who story set in Scotland, written by a Scottish author? How could Hi-Ex! ignore this ? This was one book it really would have been remiss of us not to review.
And by some no doubt timey-wimey coincidence, a review copy of the audiobook version arrived round the same time as the novel, so I’ll be reviewing both of them here.
The story is set on the Isle of Lewis, as the Doctor arrives just in time (doesn’t he always?) to get involved in an adventure with the islanders, a boat load of Vikings and a third, mysterious alien force.
Author J.T. Colgan does a wonderful job in evoking the atmosphere of the island, with some brilliant descriptions that sometimes almost leave the reader shivering with the cold and damp she’s describing.
Colgan also presents us with a good cast of characters, all of which are well written. Her take on the Doctor in particular is very good, and she gives him some wonderful lines that are in turn funny or weighted with his many years of existence.
The plot is good, if not particularly original (I think the Earth must be positively littered with crashed alien spaceships by now!), but the aliens themselves are a nice idea.
But the book is not without its problems. There are a couple of occasions where mistakes seem to have slipped passed the editing process. At one point the Doctor appears to be speaking underwater, and on another runs into the water before deciding to roll up is trousers and do it again a couple of paragraphs later.
The contemporary characters also sometimes lapse into modern language and slang, which serves to pull the reader out of the story.
But the good parts are very good. The attitude of the Vikings towards the Doctor is just brilliant and was what I enjoyed most about the story. They see a mysterious stranger with a box in a strange colour they don’t have a word for (which is another lovely touch), who can do incredible things – what else could he be but a god? This to me, made sense they would think like this and was doubly enjoyable because the Doctor was so put out by it. He likes it when people admire the TARDIS, so receiving the opposite reaction makes for some great scenes.
The audio version is read by Neve McIntosh, who has appeared in the TV show a few times, most recently as Madam Vastra in A Good Man Goes to War. She does a very good job at bring the atmosphere in the book to life, help in no small part by her having a head start with the accents. It has all the excellent production values you would expect from and AudioGo release, and is definitely worth seeking out!

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