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By Mark Gatiss

Book review by Clinton Spencer

Nightshade is the exact mirror image of the successful Doctor Who story that the die-hard fans live for. It's set in a village cut off from the rest of the world and the population is facing an unknown terror. Never fear, the good old alien battling Doctor is here to save them and still be home for tea. Or is he? He says he's done his bit for the universe and is looking to retire (?) - but we all know that won't happen. Very soon he's off investigating and Ace is making friends with the locals.

It's a gripping novel that I read almost non-stop. I loved the last quarter of the book - the body count is so high!

I love seeing only a few survivors in stories and I think this is why I like the book so much. It's so satisfying to see main characters that you have come to know biting the dust left, right and centre!

At times I was cheering the enemy along, thinking 'Get them, get them, get them!'

I must be sick in the head, but the book did it for me. Characters dying help move the novel along and creates a greater atmosphere when you know that no character is safe from the threat.

The characters and setting are extremely well-written. The story starts slowly (allowing you a chance to get to know and love the characters), but by the middle of the book it's racing along with great gusto. By the end you're left breathless but amazed. I was, at least; others may be bored.

I was disappointed with the ending though. It needed another ten or so pages as it seemed rushed. I wasn't happy with the jumpy separation of Ace and Robin either. It just didn't seem to link with the rest of the story.

Never mind, you can't expect Mark Gatiss to get everything right first time - I dearly hope he'll write another one in the near future.

And for those who complain about the 'spaced-out' plots in the New Adventures, read this conventional but excellent novel. You may well be surprised.

This item appeared in TSV 34 (July 1993).

Index nodes: Nightshade