Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Nightmare of Black Island by Mike Tucker

"Lewis Carroll. He was an odd one. Real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. Completely denied having anything to do with the Alice books. Daft as a brush. You'd have liked him! Loved inventing words. Ever read Jabberwocky? Loads of good words in there. "Tulgy", "whiffling", "galumphing". And "burbled". How come "burbled" gets to be in the Oxford English Dictionary but "tulgy" doesn't? Hm?'"

My first Doctor Who novel. Late, I know. But the idea of books based on TV series has always made me uncomfortable. The annoying Buffy Season 8* did nothing to help; but if I write about that, I'll probably burst into angry flames. These, though, are highly addictive, I have since read two more, the third arrives any day now!

Summary: On a lonely stretch of Welsh coastline, a fisherman is killed by a hideous creature from beneath the waves. When the Doctor and Rose arrive, they discover a village where the children are plagued by nightmares, and the nights are ruled by monsters. The villagers suspect that ancient industrialist Nathanial Morton is to blame, but the Doctor has suspicions of his own. Who are the ancient figures that sleep in the old priory? What are the monsters that prowl the woods after sunset? What is the light that glows in the disused lighthouse on Black Island? As the children's nightmares get worse, the Doctor and Rose discover an alien plot to resurrect an ancient evil...

My thoughts: Mike Tucker has captured the voice of Rose and the Tenth Doctor perfectly nicely, giving them just those sort of quirky Doctor Who moments we love. The prose, though, is oversimplified: filled with page-long descriptions and little character depth. Since we already know the characters, and the imagery is very apt and vivid, that style of writing works in his favour. Where there is little plot movement, the spooky atmosphere keeps you engaged. The children, the nightmares, the creepy man in the wheelchair, the angry Ms. Peyne: the book has all the elements of horror. The ending is a bit unsurprising and sensationalized; but it also just somehow works. The whole book reads like an hour long episode, and it's easy to ignore that little predictability. I suppose these books would make great reads for someone whose default state isn't in a book. If you love the Tenth Doctor like I do, and have a hard time getting involved in books, read this. The Nightmare of Black Island is quick, funny, original and exciting.

I'd been too busy this month to read anything other than that one book I read weeks ago. What with little time and lots of work, this was just the guilty-pleasure-YA break I needed.

*Another Buffy connection: There is an audio version of this read by Anthony Stewart Head, but I'm not the biggest fan of audiobooks, and his voice still says Giles, and that just wouldn't have seemed right.

Let's assume I read this for the 2014 Science Fiction Experience. The other books I've read for this event are Time and Again by Jack Finney, and three dystopian short stories by E.M. Forster, Jack London and Kurt Vonnegut. Sadly, I only just found Timescape by Gregory Benford, and I doubt I could finish reading it in a day!

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