THE DROSTEN'S CURSE
For the last few years, BBC Books has been attracting well-known writers (Michael Moorcock, Stephen Baxter, et al.) to write 'proper' Doctor Who books. But it is with this latest outing, courtesy of A. L. Kennedy, that the range has really reached its peak.
Featuring a companionless Fourth Doctor, the tale takes place in the Scottish town of Arbroath. Beneath the everyday banality of a golf course, something is discovered that may mean the end of the world. But then, if you've read the Time Trips novella The Death Pit, you already knew that; the novel is a greatly expanded adaptation of it.
Kennedy's delightful way of writing the world around the characters means that there is something that will make you laugh at least once in every short chapter. She has a way of stating the absurd in a way that makes it sound quite whimsical, really (for example, a character is taken aback at having woken up with "only the usual number of limbs that day").
This talent for winning descriptions owes a lot to famous teller of Target tales Terrance Dicks, but this is one case of the student far outclassing the master; where Dicks' prose was workmanlike with touches of genius, (this is not as much of a criticism as it may appear; Dicks has his admirers for a reason) here the genius is practically in every line. You've got to love lines like "the Doctor paced up to the Spa Welcome Desk like a jolly tiger in a maroon jacket" or "a both angry and stealthy mammoth was creeping up behind them to tread on precious and fragile things - things like their heads".
But those are a few quotes. To really appreciate the beauty of the book as a whole, you really have to read it. With just one contribution, Kennedy has rapidly risen up to become one of our favourite Doctor Who authors of the modern range. Hopefully there's more where that came from.
INFO: AUTHOR: A. L. KENNEDY / PUBLISHER: BBC BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (HARDBACK), JANUARY 21ST (PAPERBACK)