Review: Doctor Who: Books: The Roots of Evil (Puffin 4th Doctor)

reeve-roots-of-evil-50thBy Philip Reeve

Puffin Books out now

When the Doctor and Leela arrive on a new world, they are surprised to find that they are expected – and not in a good way…

Each of the four short stories published so far in this Puffin series has had its own merits – either they have provided a different look at Doctor Who, or taken the concept to places that the TV budgets of the time couldn’t have created. Reeve has his own slant: in some ways this is a reworking of the beats of Leela’s first story, The Face of Evil, but with the huntress benefitting from her time travelling with the Doctor.

It’s not just obvious similarities, such as both being set on a jungle world. In The Face of Evil, “The Evil One” is the Doctor; here, once again, it’s the Doctor whose arrival is anticipated and feared, although there’s a neat twist on this, which drives the latter half of the story. There are tests, and confrontations with superior intellects which are manipulating the population, and it’s even the Doctor’s own actions earlier in the timeline that once again cause the problem that he’s facing now.

That might make it sound as if Reeve is cheating his audience – after all, if they know who Leela is, they may well have bought the DVD of The Face of Evil in recent times. He isn’t: his rendition of the lead characters is spot-on, and he draws you into the story very quickly so that the similarities only occur once you’ve finished reading.

Verdict: A tale that is very – almost too – true to the period in which it is set, that shows off this TARDIS crew very well.  7/10

Paul Simpson

Click here to order Doctor Who: The Roots of Evil from Amazon.co.uk

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