BBC Books, out 11 September
The Doctor and Clara find themselves in a village which has been cut off from the outside world – by giant insects…
Mike Tucker’s gothic horror novel reads like a Hinchcliffe era story done with the benefit of a working TARDIS (it’s essential to the plot that the Doctor is able to pilot his ship, not something that could be relied on in those faraway days). It’s structured like an episode: we have a pre-credits sequence in which something (or things) frightens various different inhabitants of the village, and then the Doctor and Clara appear.
It’s a story that involves the Doctor with the military, and, as with Into the Dalek, we see this incarnation’s dislike (bordering on outright hatred) of those in uniform, although the necessities of the situation mean he has to work with them, and take advantage of their skills. There’s a fun reason given for the lack of UNIT involvement (which may be a little bit of a spoiler for a future episode, or just a throwaway gag), and more than a few callouts to the classic series – something which seems part and parcel of the current version of the show with its Miniscope references.
Tucker deliberately introduces a number of clichés into the tale, some of which play out as you’d expect, others of which definitely don’t. Part of that involves the treatment of Clara: she spends quite a bit of the story away from the Doctor, and her continuing unease with this version of the Time Lord is clear. Her increasing confidence in situations where she’s alone with the bad guy(s) is showcased here too.
As you’d expect in a story that involves giant insects, there are quite a few scenes of man vs. insect, including a beetle against helicopter sequence that I’d love to see realised on film. You can imagine that visual effects expert Tucker already has ideas as to how that would be done…
Verdict: A well-told creepy tale. 8/10