In The Shining Man, his first Doctor Who novel, audio and comic strip, writer Cavan Scott brings us contemporary England for a story featuring the twelfth Doctor and Bill Potts. One of a set of three books released with the tenth season of the show, it is informed by Bill’s backstory as seen in the first few episodes. There’s no Nardole, but there is a whole host of interesting characters and settings.
The Shining Men of the title are mysterious tall figures with blazing eyes. At first, they are taken for a schoolyard hoax, an urban myth, until people start going missing. Enter the Doctor and Bill.
The story focusses on a small family: grandmother Hilary, Sammy Holland a single mum, and her two children Masie and Noah. They live in a normal, small town, with obligatory local woods. As the TARDIS appears, not only do the Doctor and Bill start to investigate, but also Charlotte Sadler, vlogger extraordinaire, and (in their own time) the police in the form of PC Schofield. For a change, the foe - when revealed - isn’t alien, but something different.
Cavan’s story draws on legend and paints fantastic landscapes as the Doctor and PC Schofield explore the world beyond a portal from which nobody has emerged alive. Cavan’s credentials as a writer of comics shines through as bright as the light from the eyes of a Shining Man. Although the Doctor Who audience will be sizable, it’s a shame the book isn’t going to be more widely read as the writing is very vivid.
Cavan’s take on Capaldi’s Doctor is a good one, dark, almost cocky in his arrogance, yet unassuming. The one drawback with The Shining Man is the lack of development of Bill’s character. This is clearly not straightforward with a new character, yet to be seen on TV when the book was written. In the end matters are resolved, most characters get a resolution if not a happy ending, and it’s an enjoyable way to spend some time.
THE SHINING MAN (DOCTOR WHO) / AUTHOR: CAVAN SCOTT / PUBLISHER: BBC BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW