Sunday, June 10, 2012

Review: Touched by an Angel

...the Doctor Who novel. Not the long-running, inspirational TV series. I've never actually seen an episode of the show, but I guess it was sort of like 'Highway to Heaven', only with less Michael Landon and more women. Which, y'know, if you like that sort of thing, I guess? Anyhow, this is about the other kind of Angel. The kind that you should never look away from. Not even for a second.

Honestly, if you're going to do a Weeping Angel time-travel head-trip story, there really is no better person to go to than to Jonathan Morris. He's one of the remaining genuinely great Doctor Who authors who hasn't made the jump to television, and his debut novel, 'Festival of Death', is probably the only Doctor Who story to out wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey Moffat himself. Combining him with the Weeping Angels is an absolutely natural pairing.

And he doesn't disappoint. The basic premise of the novel is pretty much in line with the sort of thing you'd expect from a Weeping Angel story, while at the same time providing an inventive enough twist; Mark, a depressed widower, receives a message from his own past self explaining how he can save his wife, one which leads him into an encounter with Weeping Angels and sends him back in time so that he can follow his future self's instructions. It's sort of a remix of the two basic ideas of 'Blink', a not-unheard of but well-executed version of the time travel paradox story.

And Morris continues the 'Blink' house mix idea a fair distance into the novel; we get the Eleventh Doctor's take on the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey detector ("boils eggs; that's not a bug, it's a feature"), we get some cunning interactions between the past and future Marks as the Doctor, Amy and Rory struggle to prevent history from being's nothing especially inventive, but Morris has great prose and the plot unfolds entertainingly...

And then Morris rings in the clever twist, which I'm far too nice to spoil, and it becomes obvious that he's been working hard at letting us think that this is a clever-but-unambitious time-travel head-trip story so that we don't see the twist coming. And then things get seriously clever, and Rory wears a fez. And about the ending I shall say no more, except to suggest that this one is well worth reading.

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