BBC Books, out now
On the run from men in black, Gwen and Rhys end up in a village where the children act strangely and the adults have an unhealthy interest in baby Arwen…
What might best be described as Torchwood 2010 continues with this first in a series of three novels that is set between the end of Children of Earth and the start of Miracle Day (“continues” because one of the recent radio plays is also revealed to be set within this gap). Since it’s established that Jack Harkness is off-planet, it means that Torchwood comes down to two people: Gwen and Rhys.
For those who wondered how they found the safe house at the start of Miracle Day, this book provides the explanation: Torchwood kept keys for a number of properties located near incidents that they’d investigated, and Gwen is just working her way through these. On this occasion, the place is near a small Welsh village, which seems innocuous on the surface, even if the village shop surprisingly doesn’t sell nappies…
As he proved with his contribution to The Lost Files, James Goss really understands these characters, and the book is written in a series of changing points of view – mainly Rhys and Gwen, but interpolated with interjections from some of the villagers. The problems of trying to investigate while saddled with a small baby are made abundantly clear, in some laugh out loud moments particularly for anyone who’s lived through the first six months of a child’s life. The plot is a little too reminiscent of other stories, using tropes from John Wyndham (and not just the obvious Midwich Cuckoos links), as well as Tom Baker-era Doctor Who, but Goss keeps the momentum going.
Verdict: Explaining the Williams’ mindset at the start of the new series, this is an enjoyable Torchwood tale. 7/10