(ISBN 0-426-20376-3)









 Ace has never known

 the Doctor TO BE so

 melancholic. He is

 avoiding her, seeking

 solace in the DUSTY

 passages of his OLD

 time machine.


 Perhaps he will find

 the peace he yearns

 for on his favourite

 planet, Earth. in the 

 ISOLATED village of

 Crook Marsham, to

 be precise, in 1968:

 the year of peace,

 love, understanding...


 But THE villagers are

 being killed. The TIME

 LORD has to act, but

 he seems indecisive 

 AND powerless.


 What are the signals

 from space that are

 bombarding the radio

 telescope on the 

 moor? What is the

 significance of the

 local legends from

 the civil war? And

 what is the aeons-

 old power that the

 Doctor is unable to








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Virgin’s first stand-alone New Adventure, Nightshade, is one of its finest to date. Debutant Mark Gatiss quite dexterously fuses the sensibilities of the television series with the more adult themes of these novels, skilfully negotiating sexual and racial topics without being any more explicit than, say, Remembrance of the Daleks was. And, best of all, he absolutely nails that impalpable quality that makes Who Who.


Nightshade’s greatest asset is how Gatiss masterfully handles the characters of the Doctor and Ace. He clearly knows the pair of them inside-out, and though he places each of them in slightly unfamiliar situations (Ace falling in love with Robin, and the Doctor wanting to retire) he writes for them so very well that you can see how the Doctor’s desire to “stop interfering” and Ace’s need to be loved are a logical progression not only from the television series, but also from the preceding New Adventures.



The supporting characters

are also exceedingly well

written, especially the Mr

Trevithick / Professor Nig-

htshade character, who

when I was reading the

book put me very much in

mind of William Hartnell. A

bit-part film actor who made it big in cult science-fiction television show in his later years? Something of a grumpy old sod? The parallels are patent, and add a touch of nostalgia to the novel. Which is of course, dangerous…



The science-fiction / horror story itself is nothing exceptional, but it still works very well and evokes that discrete Doctor Who feel that I associate with the ‘glory days’ of the early to mid 1970s. Having the villagers of Crook Marsham haunted by the terrors of their pasts provides some breathtaking scenes of horror, with elements like the terrifying ‘tar baby’ reminding me very much of the infamous ‘troll doll’ sequence in Terror of the Autons. Moreover, to have the Doctor himself haunted by Susan’s apparition is a masterstroke, showing us that the often cold and calculating seventh Doctor still has these ingrained feelings of guilt and loss.


The book’s ending is horrible though. Horrible, that is, in a dramatic, gut-wrenchingly perfect sense. Much like he did all those years ago with Ian and Barbara, the selfish Doctor virtually kidnaps Ace, stealing her away from her new love, Robin, forever. It feels like a real turning point in their relationship; one from which there may be no going back.



Altogether then, Nightshade is a real gem. Of all the New Adventures published to date, it

is the one that reflects the spirit and the feel of the television series most truthfully, yet it still manages to break new ground. Outstanding.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.



This story suggests that Susan Foreman was not the Doctor’s biological grand-daughter.


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