THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
AND "DOCTOR WHO
AND THE TAINT."
OFFICIAL BBC 'EIGHTH
RELEASED IN JANUARY
The Doctor and Sam
arrive on Proxima II,
one of the earliest
planets colonised in
humanity's first big
push into space. But
instead of a brave
new world, they find
a settlement rife with
are dying out. Humans
too are being killed in
horrific ways, each
PERSON'S face being
You’ve got to admit, the concept of the titular Face-Eater is grossly macabre. Those who’ve seen Mark Gatiss’ later television episode The Idiot’s Lantern will be already be familiar with that fundamentally disturbing image of a human being with its face wiped clean, and here Simon Messingham pushed things even further by having his eponymous monster go on to assume the identity of the person whose face it steals; a physical case
of identity theft, if you will.
The trouble is, with a title like “The Face-Eater”, readers expect a certain amount of face-eating for their money, and Messingham’s novel has a dearth of it. In fact, over the course
of the book’s 280 pages, very little of note happens at all. Yet another bunch of (figuratively!) faceless 22nd century human colonists wander about wondering who is for the chop next, and that’s about it. Fair dues, the swerve towards the end of the story is genuinely shocking, but regrettably by that point in the narrative my interest had long-since waned.
What’s more, Messingham doesn’t
handle the regulars very well. After
an extraordinary outing under Jim
Mortimore, here Sam regresses to
the spiky adolescent that she was
before “growing up” during the
events of Seeing I. Even what
promised to be a half-interesting
new arc is suddenly halted in its
tracks when the nanites that made
Sam “immortal” in the previous novel inexplicably leave her body (though given her puerile
conduct here, one can hardly blame them). And unfortunately Messingham’s Doctor is even worse – less offensive, I’ll grant you, but so utterly insipid throughout that one could believe that he’d had his face eaten off and his identity torn away long before the TARDIS took him to Proxima II.
That said, I suspect that The Face Eater might appeal to those with a keen interest in noirish horror, provided that they steel themselves for a trickle of scares as opposed to a torrent. On the whole though, I’m afraid that for most fans there will be very little to like here. Well, except for the Doctor’s new friend, Cheeky Monkey, obviously.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2010
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
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