THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
OFFICIAL VIRGIN 'NEW
RELEASED IN AUGUST
in the idyllic gardens
of a country house,
Ace KNOWS something
terrible is bound to
happen. SOON ACE AND
IN A world in which
the familiar is being
twisted. A world
ruled by the Quack,
whose medicines are
deadly poisons and
whose aim is the
of the Doctor...
As a fan of Doctor Who, I’m shamelessly biased towards it. Where an impartial reviewer might look at The Happiness Patrol and sees hammed-up, painted villains and liquorice allsort-inspired antagonists, I see cutting political satire and the stuff of nightmares. Similarly, when I’m reviewing the latest Virgin paperback, I’m not trying to carry out some high-brow literary critique – I’m just saying what I like about it as a fan, and, inevitably, what
But until now, I’ve never had to give a wholly bad review. Even in the worst Doctor Who stories, I usually have one flicker of interest; find one great idea or enthralling character; perhaps even one delectable twist. But I’m afraid that a line has to be drawn here. There
is nothing even remotely pleasurable about Strange England.
This is the first – and I pray the last – Doctor Who novel that I’ve ever considered putting down. In fact, it was only pig-headed completism that forced me to dutifully plough through extraordinarily long chapter after extraordinarily long chapter, each chunk of prose taking
an eternity to digest as I desperately tried to stop myself from glancing absently around the room (a far more entertaining pastime than reading Strange England, I’m afraid).
Having only finished reading this book about ten minutes ago, the feeble plot and forgettable characters are already rapidly fading from memory. Yet another setting outside reality. Yet another Gallifreyan meddler to contend with. Yet another “oh no Doctor, you can’t possibly do that” moment. It’s all been done to death recently, and frankly with much more finesse. And don’t even get me started on ‘The Quack’…
Even the regular characters lack their usual sparkle. Of the lot, only the Doctor is portrayed with anything like accuracy, and even he is often degenerated to the juggling, winking jester of his first televised season. What were Virgin thinking when they commissioned this?
I hate having to give an entirely negative and unconstructive review, particularly as it’s a new writer’s work that I’m dissing, but when a novel stands out as being so flagrantly below par
as this one is, what else can you do? Even the most avid Who fans should be wary of this one.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
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