BBC Books, out now
In the wake of the Kennedy assassination, the world’s grief is being magnified – and fed upon…
The events of November 22, 1963 have almost entered into the realms of mythology now, and while debut Who range author Tommy Donbavand doesn’t overly dwell on what happened in Dealey Plaza that day, he does provide a good “eye-witness” description for the benefit of those who only know the story via its media reinterpretations by Oliver Stone/Red Dwarf (delete as applicable). He captures the mode of utter disbelief that fell over America, and the world, following the death of President Kennedy – and then throws the Doctor and Clara into the mix.
The slightly edged relationship between the Time Lord and his latest travelling companion is well portrayed – the start of Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS is similar – as well as the way in which the Doctor remembers past friends. After a number of short excerpts bringing scripted extracts from across the years to life, Donbavand gives us a beautiful moment at a cemetery that I’m not ashamed to say brought a tear to the eye – a fitting tribute to one of the series’ most important characters where you might least expect it.
Where The Dalek Generation told a story on a wider canvas than the series normally tries on screen and Plague of the Cybermen mixed classic and new series tropes together successfully, Shroud of Sorrow could easily be a two-parter from the current season, if we were allowed such things. There are some surprising left turns – the Doctor and Clara’s allies in the final battle are not at all who you’d expect – and chances for both regular and new characters to show what they can do.
Verdict: From its start in a junkyard at Totters Lane to its rather worrying conclusion, Shroud of Sorrow is a terrific Who adventure that pays homage to the show’s past, while keeping its 21st century pace and style. 8/10