Until now, I haven’t read any of the New Who fiction tie-ins. I’m not sure why. Maybe I bought into the fan snob idea that the tie-in fiction for an ongoing series can’t possibly be as interesting or involved as the Wilderness Year fiction was? Or that the new stuff was aimed ‘at kids’? Or maybe I was just a little too co-dependent with my Big Finish Audios to let anyone else in…
In any case, this is very much a year for reading books about Doctor Who (I’m not getting any other reading done!) and the recent Verity! interview with Una McCormack about writing tie-in fiction pushed me over the edge.
So I picked up the Kindle edition of The Way Through the Woods by Una McCormack, a book featuring the Eleventh Doctor and the Pond newlyweds.
From a Series 6 point of view, this one is obviously set before the Amy-and-baby revelations. It could even be potentially set before The Impossible Astronaut, as it’s noticeably lacking in possible-pregnancy angst, or any angst at all except for a bit of Rory’s personal “I was plastic for 2000 years” trauma.
I enjoyed the plot, which relies on a classic Doctor Who story trope: “sinister and culturally familiar paranormal phenomenon is explained by science fiction doohickey and yet this revelation only brings FURTHER complications.” The story has a strong contemporary voice as well as a bit of historical colour from 1913, and there are lots of likeable, complex female characters in it. I also appreciated that many strands of the narrative were told out of order early on, so we see Rory, Amy and the Doctor in the middle of trouble and attempting to fulfil their various pieces of the quest, and a bunch of other jigsaw pieces, before it all starts slotting together and we discover how they figured out there was a mystery in the first place.
Foxton is a perfectly ordinary English village, except for the woods. Everyone knows you don’t go near the woods, because people have been known to disappear around there.
In 1913, Rory attempts to walk a young lady home, knowing that this is the evening that she disappeared into the woods and was lost forever.
In the 21st century, Amy attaches herself to a young local journalist, Jess, armed with a newspaper article telling her that Jess, too, is about to disappear.
The Doctor is under arrest, and the woods are beginning to hum.
There’s something wrong with this town, and those woods, and time itself.
A clever, fun read that zips along, I particularly liked the portrayal of the Ponds in this book. They barely appear in scenes together, and yet their relationship and their reactions to each other are constantly parts of their character. Even when Rory has lost his memories, he knows to jump when Amy tells him to… and not for the first time, she gets a glimpse at the horrible possibility of losing him forever.
I’ll definitely be looking up more of McCormack’s work (she also writes Star Trek books!) and perhaps dip my toe a bit further into the New Who fiction range. It’s so nice to be able to linger around one of my favourite eras of the show without being hit in the face by story arc dramah.
ELSEWHERE ON 2011:
What if Season 6 of the Doctor Had Been Made as a Film in 1936? [Elvisomar]
The Impossible Astronaut [Calapine]
Domesticating the Doctor III: Marrying the Ponds [TansyRR.com]
The Doctor’s Wife [The Angriest]
Idris: the Doctor’s Wife [Springfield Punx]
The Doctor’s Car… Uh, Wife [Doctor Her]
The TARDIS as Maternal Mastermind [Fangirl Knits Scarf]
A Good Man Goes To War [Calapine]
Let’s Kill Hitler [Calapine]
The Wedding of River Song [The Angriest]
Episode 15 – Halloweeny Type Listening [Little Finish]