I was so excited to read one of the new Twelfth Doctor books! I chose one by Justin Richards because I had read a few of his Eighth Doctor books, such as The Burning, and really enjoyed it. Plus, this one features the Paternoster Gang, and Strax is always great fun.
THE PLOT: A creepy carnival in Victorian England is the setting. A man is strangely murdered after beginning a letter to Vastra. A friend of Strax is also murdered, drained to a husk. At first, the two don’t seem connected, but of course they are. The Doctor and Clara show up to help unravel the mystery. The Doctor is enthralled by a strange shadow puppet show performed by a lady called Silhouette. A weird man hanging around the carnival also seems somewhat anachronistic, knowing things he shouldn’t for this time period. As they investigate, Clara, Jenny, and Vastra each meet people who seem especially sympathetic to them personally, but are these people really friends or foes?
MY TWO CENTS: This was the first Twelfth Doctor book I read, and I felt that the author captured him very well. Newer fans could pick up this book and clearly know they weren’t reading about Nine, Ten, or Eleven. This book also seems to distribute well among Clara, Jenny, and Strax, so it’s not all “The Clara Show” as I felt the show sometimes became at the end of Twelve’s inaugural season. I did feel that Vastra didn’t have as much of a presence, but she was strong in the finale.
I loved the idea of the paper origami birds that come to life. This is the kind of effect that works well in the a book, as the effect on film probably wouldn’t be as cool as what the imagination can conjure. The villain was the perfect kind of foe for the Doctor; totally selfish and destructive, and using innocent people to do the dirty work.
Note that this is a pretty short book, clocking in at 258 pages. I read an ebook ARC and it definitely moved along swiftly.
BOTTOM LINE: If you’re missing Twelve and companions, and the Christmas special and next season seem too far away, check out this book. You’ll be entertained, although only for a short while. (But probably still for longer than the run time of an episode!)
TEACUP RATING: Four out of five teacups.
ON SALE DATE: The book is available now in trade paperback and eformats.
Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Blogging for Books and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.