THIS NOVEL TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
NOVEL "THE STONE ROSE"
AND THE TV EPISODE
OFFICIAL BBC HARDBACK
RELEASED IN MAY 2006.
When a naval cruiser
sinks in the North Sea,
all aboard are lost.
Rose is saddened to
learn that the SIBLING
of her friend, Keisha,
was among the dead.
And yet he appears
to them as a ghostly
to be saved from the
coming feast... the
feast of the drowned.
As the dead crew
haunt loved ones
all over London, the
Doctor and Rose are
drawn into a chilling
mystery. What sank
the ship, and why?
When the cruiser’s
wreckage was towed
up the Thames, what
sinister force came
The river’s dark
waters are hiding an
even darker secret,
as preparations for
the feast near their
This time last year, Stephen Cole contributed the darkest of the first batch of ninth Doctor novels. This year, he does the same for David Tennant’s tenth Doctor. The Feast of the Drowned is a dark, brooding novel that plays on some very instinctive human fears, both physical and emotional. Drowning. Jealousy. Love. Grief. It’s a novel that is firmly grounded in the world of the new series - perhaps more heavily than even some of the more ‘soapy’ episodes like Boom Town – but it is also a novel that does what Doctor Who does best: it scares the pants off you!
The horror aspect of this story
is very strong indeed. Cole’s writing evokes some powerful imagery, particularly in the horrific underwater scenes
but also in the scenes above water – hundreds and hundreds of people trying desperately
to throw themselves into the Thames like lemmings! In terms of ‘baddies’, Crayshaw is as chilling as they come. Wearing the body of a 200 year-old senior naval officer, Crayshaw wants the whole population of London to follow their loved ones into the Thames so they
can carry the spawn of his race. Truly chilling stuff.
The ‘domestic’ aspect of The Feast of the Drowned could be where the novel falls down for a lot of fans, who might not be as keen on this sort of thing as the television series’ general audience is. Put at its simplest, when Rose initially vanished for a year with the Doctor, it wasn’t just Mickey and Jackie that took it badly. Her best friend, Keisha, felt so hurt by her friend just taking off that she tried to seduce Mickey, who just happened to drink a few too many with her one night and… Fast forward to The Feast of the Drowned, and the ghost
of her recently drowned brother is haunting Keisha. The Doctor and Rose are called in to investigate, but their ever-dependable technical support, Mickey, is not too keen to help Rose’s old friend…
Personally, I enjoyed this ‘soapy’ part of the story just as much as I did the more traditional elements. Much of the success of this revived series is down to how real the characters – especially Rose and her family – seem to the audience. Last year’s Aliens of London two-parter explored how Rose’s disappearance affected her mother and her boyfriend, but there’s only so much screen time each week and so the reaction of her close friends had
to be ignored. Keisha, however, was just as affected by Rose’s disappearance as Jackie and Mickey. This novel dwells heavily on the ‘normal life’ of Rose and Keisha; about how they were friends throughout their school years, how they would plan their big ‘Friday Night’ all week long and all the other crazy, mundane things that best friends do. What is really clever about how Cole uses Keisha though is that it shows us an alternative future for Rose – a ‘what might have been’ had she not ran into the TARDIS that night. It shows just how much the Doctor has influenced and moulded an everyday London teenager and turned her into something special.
As the plot revolves so heavily around Rose, as he did with Ms Flowers in The Monsters Inside, Stephen Cole gives the Doctor a makeshift companion – Vida, a scientist (and
quite a fit one, by the sounds of things) who seems to have an eye for the Time Lord. As Vida is more technically minded than Rose, she helps the Doctor to unravel much of the mystery surrounding the sunk naval cruiser and Crayshaw’s fiendish plot. The Doctor, Vida and, later on in the book, Mickey are given the lion’s share of the action by Cole, including some very James Bond boat-chases and such like.
On a final note, I found it strange (though admittedly a little comforting) that after all the Doctor’s spiel about a “brand new planet Earth” at the end of The Christmas Invasion,
in this story we are right back to square one as regards humanity’s attitude towards extra-terrestrials. From reading The Feast of the Drowned, the general consensus about the Sycorax and the Slitheen etc is that they were all nothing more than high-profile hoaxes.
In summary then, if you’re looking for a good old fashioned Doctor Who tale, this is not the best book for you – you would probably be more at home with The Resurrection Casket. Two out of three Earth-based novels featuring Mickey and Jackie et al is probably a bit
much all at once, but as I love them both I can’t complain. The Feast of the Drowned is
a superb tie-in novel, and one which actually adds o the mythology of the new series in
terms of the relationships between the main characters and mankind’s widely-held beliefs about aliens. It has also got a little bit of everything – glorious set pieces, great characters, action by the bucket load, and, of course, one hell of a story. New series junkies are sure
to love it.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
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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