THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
NOVELLA "REVENGE OF
OFFICIAL BBC HARDBACK
RELEASED IN APRIL
Castle Extremis is
about to play host to
the signing of a peace
treaty. But as the
Doctor and Martha
find out, not everyone
wants the war to
Who is the strange
little girl haunting
the castle? What is
the secret of the book
the Doctor finds, its
pages made from thin,
brittle glass? Who
is the hooded figure
that watches from
the shadows? And
what is the secret
of the legendary
The Doctor and
Martha don't have
long to find answers
— an army is on the
march, and the castle
will soon be under
I was surprised to see the front covers of this month’s novels emblazoned with Freema Agyeman’s image. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that BBC Books have actually released a batch of novels not set during the season currently being transmitted since the series returned in 2005. Now I have no idea what has prompted such
a bizarre marketing decision, but the result is surprisingly jarring; I have become used to reading novels that are entirely commensurate with what I’m seeing on screen. However,
in another sense, reading Martha in the Mirror is like reading an old Missing Adventure, which is certainly no bad thing. What I can’t work out though is this: if BBC Books are intent on doing novels like this set during earlier seasons, then why not do something interesting, such as revisiting the ninth Doctor’s all too brief era?
All the same, Justin Richards writes so well for the Doctor and Martha that within just a few pages that old ‘Series 3’ magic comes flooding back. This novel is replete with the sort of banter that you could just imagine David Tennant and Agyeman having tremendous fun with on screen – their two aliases “Martha Mouse” and “Doctor Duck” are a particular source of merriment, particularly when Martha is trying to warn the Doctor to duck.
Richards also includes some nice, well rounded
characters like Gonfer, as well as Bill and Bott –
two rather endearing servo-droids. However, no
matter how good the characters populating this
book are, when reading it I did predict just about
every ‘twist’ that Richards threw at me, most notably the one surrounding the twins, Jenna and Tylda, on which half the novel hangs.
“She is right. Our place is in the mirror. Look at her – so fragile, so delicate…”
Even so, there is still a lot to enjoy about this book. The Mortal Mirror is neither as dull nor as hackneyed as it sounds; in fact, perhaps the most remarkable part of the narrative surrounds the people made of glass that have become trapped inside the mirror. Richards really milks the ‘glass monster’ notion for all it is worth before doing a full 360° and really making us feel for the ‘fragile’ people like Manfred Grieg trapped on the other side of the mirror. Those who have bought this book expecting to find the eye-patch wearing counterparts of our heroes on the other side will no doubt be sadly disappointed though.
And so, whilst it is far from being the best Doctor Who novel ever published, Martha in the Mirror is certainly an enjoyable little adventure. Certain elements, like the Anthium and the Zerugma, didn’t really work for me, but by the time that I had reached the final page, any misgivings that I had about the book were utterly quashed by the author’s sheer gall. Just how many authors would dare to conclude a story with the old phrase “it was just a dream” these days?
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2008
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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