Puffin eBook, out now
The Doctor and Nyssa investigate an outbreak of truth-telling in wartime America…
Some of these Puffin stories have been neatly self-contained, and you don’t come away feeling as if you need to know more. Patrick Ness’ contribution feels as if it’s part of a much larger story that’s going on – and it would be very interesting to see this one expanded into a longer tale.
It’s set in that nebulous period between Time-Flight and Arc of Infinity, where the Doctor and Nyssa are travelling alone after losing two companions in quick succession (leading to an interesting epilogue to the story). They’re not Ness’ primary focus in the story, though: we’re in Stephen King territory here, albeit, of course, on a much less graphic scale, with echoes of King’s ‘last Castle Rock story’, Needful Things.
The story is about ordinary people affected by extraordinary events, in this case a fad for Truth Tellers, which are pretty much what the name suggests – but why are the creatures fomenting such bad feelings? Ness holds back the reveals until the end, which gives us time to empathise with his characters, and like them, wonder what this oddly-dressed British guy is going to do…
Verdict: A nice evocation of period matched with an intriguing take on how the Doctor comes across to those he helps. 7/10