Review: Doctor Who – Sting of the Zygons / Author: Stephen Cole / Publisher: BBC Books / Release Date: Out Now
Sting of the Zygons is a Tenth Doctor (plus Martha) story set in the Lake District in 1909. Originally published in 2007, it has been re-issued, with a new introduction, as part of the BBC’s Monster Collection.
Landing in the Lake District, the Doctor and Martha quickly find that there are Zygons around and that one of their monstrous lake creatures, a Skarasen, has been killed. But what by? As the English gentry flock to the area to bag the Beast of Westmorland in the hunt and impress the King, the Doctor has bigger problems to solve. And just who is the mysterious young girl whose spirit walks the land?
The idea that the Zygons and their Skarasen might be facing a greater enemy is a good one and the first few chapters introduce many interesting characters giving a flavour of the time: it is the early days of film, motor cars are around but not wonderful and technology is represented by the telegraph. The writing also extends the basic Zygon premise from the original Fourth Doctor story, though in ways that seem natural rather than being hugely innovative.
Sadly the latter two-thirds rely on an extended game of spot-the-Zygon-in-disguise, a few abductions and rescues and some cleverness from the Doctor. The ending is standard fare and feels perfunctory compared to the promise of the novel’s start. To some small extent it has also been overshadowed by the use of the Zygons in Day of the Doctor and we do wonder how much Steven Moffat may have drawn from Stephen Cole’s treatment of the Zygons in this book.
Sting of the Zygons is OK, though not by any means the author’s best Doctor Who novel. As a piece of entertainment, it is fine but nothing more.