THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
AND "SICK BUILDING."
OFFICIAL BBC HARDBACK
RELEASED IN SEPTEMBER
in the sleepy New
England town of
Blackwood Falls IT'S
Autumn leaves litter
lawns and sidewalks,
paper skeletons hang
in windows, carved
pumpkins leer from
stoops and front
The Doctor and
that something long-
dormant has awoken
in the town, and this
will be no ordinary
Halloween. What is
the secret of the
ancient chestnut tree
and the mysterious
tangled in its roots?
What rises from the
in the dead of night,
sealing up the lips of
the only witness? And
why IS Halloween
suddenly taking on
a creepy new life of
As nightmarish cr-
eatures prowl the
streets, the Doctor
and Martha must
battle to prevent
both the townspeople
and themselves from
suffering a grisly
I picked this book up with high hopes after thoroughly enjoying Mark Michalo-
wski’s Wetworld, and I wasn’t disappointed. Mark Morris’ first new series tie-in is replete with everything that makes for a cracking Doctor Who story, telling a compelling tale set
in an evocative setting and populated with some great characters. Best of all though, here Morris takes something familiar and makes it truly frightening – Halloween.
Paradoxically, Halloween is anything but frightening nowadays. Especially in the United States – where this novel is set, refreshingly – Halloween is more of a family event than anything else. It’s about kids trick or treating, having Halloween parties, and dressing up
in daft costumes that are about as far from scary as you can get.
Yet Forever Autumn turns this on its head; it takes all these daft things likes fancy dress costumes and toy bats and makes them terrifying. The alien menace - the Hervoken – are quite good monsters in their own right, being about ten foot tall with wraith-like talons and pumpkin heads, but it is through their Nestene-like control of inanimate objects in the town that the true horror derives. There is one scene that even I found unsettling that sees Martha and a young boy being chased down the street by a gargantuan, homicidal clown. Horrible. Imagine reading that if you were only nine or ten years old!
However, despite the successful horror story, I think on balance I enjoyed the first half of the book most of all. The Hervoken don’t properly reveal themselves until about half way through, and so prior to their big reveal the author focuses on a few select townsfolk and shows the reader how, from these characters’ perspectives, these mysterious events begin to unfold. Morris gives characters like Doctor Clayton and Etta fascinating and quite adult histories that really give the novel an added layer of depth. I also just loved the basic proposition of
the Doctor and Martha showing up in Blackwood Falls, this sleepy New England town, just as a green mist is descending and all hell is starting to break loose. Reading about them trespassing and pulling up trees to forward their investigations is a real delight.
Further, the Doctor and Martha are
both characterised splendidly. The
Doctor, for example, gives the Her-
voken a chance to leave Earth before
he destroys them, just as he so often
does with villains on television. They
don’t take it of course, otherwise we
wouldn’t have had much of a story. It makes you think, though – I wonder if in between his chronicled adventures, the Doctor ever discovers aliens up to no good, tells them to clear
off, and they say “fair dues, Doctor. We’ll be off then”, and then that’s the end of that!
Martha is also on fine form here. I really like one particular passage, about half way through
I think, where Martha is reflecting on time travel. She decides to give her sister a call when she is suddenly struck by an epiphany – she doesn’t know what year it is. It might be 2008.
It might be 2004, or 2012. Martha runs through all these mind-bending ‘what if’ scenarios
in her head which I found delightful to read about. I love that side of things - the temporal element of the show is not milked enough in my view. I suppose it could get a bit confusing for the mainstream audience to follow though if say, the Doctor and Martha landed in 2006 and bumped into Mickey or Rose. Still.
There were lots of other things that I liked about the novel. The young lads who drive the
plot forwards are all quite relatable - I love how one of them, Chris, thought that the Doctor’s name was an “online geek boy” handle. The Doctor got his own back though, questioning Chris’s sexuality! A tad risqué, perhaps, for what is essentially a children’s novel, but I think that little ‘naughty’ bits like this will only endear the book to children all the more.
In all, Forever Autumn is a wonderful little tie-in novel. I whizzed through the 250 pages in
just a couple of hours, but I think that it is the ‘young adult’ readership that are really going to love this one, especially with Halloween incumbent upon us. My only disparagement is that the author turns the Doctor against cats again. Come on – he’s supposed to be a cat lover, “the cat that walked through time” etc! Still, it’s a small price to pay to be treated to an utterly traditional yet highly inventive story told by a distinctive new voice to the range.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2007
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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