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Strange England

By Simon Messingham

Book review by Felicity Scoones

Strange England is an extremely strange book, but that is not necessarily to its advantage. Initially the plot seems convoluted enough to rival that of Timewyrm: Revelation but unfortunately unfolds into a quite straight forward story after all. The book is deceptively simplistic - it demands attention but does not reward it. There are plot holes, ideas that are set up but not followed through on and obvious plot devices used for the sole purpose of getting characters into the right state of mind for their next scenes.

Messingham writes in a disconcertingly colloquial style with the Doctor's perspective and thoughts frequently being given. Phrases such as 'the Doctor could not believe his ears' have the effect of reminding the reader that this is just a story someone has made up rather than being an extension of the mythos of Doctor Who.

The portrayal of the companions is frustrating; they are merely used as characters who get into trouble and need to be extricated. The original characters fare a little better. They fall into two stereotypes: good or malicious but within those boundaries they are well depicted and easy to visualise.

The only real strength of the book is the moods it conveys, particularly the E. Nesbit summer at the beginning. From there on the mood gets darker and darker, augmented by graphic violence.

It is difficult to read Strange England without bias, knowing that the author wanted to withdraw his book before it was finished. I found myself trying to find redeeming features but ultimately had to agree that at least Simon Messingham is a good judge of his own work.

This item appeared in TSV 41 (October 1994).

Index nodes: Strange England