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Falls the Shadow

By Daniel O'Mahony

Book review by Paul Scoones

The first thing that struck me about this novel is its length; at 356 pages of text it easily beats out Lucifer Rising, the previous New Adventure record-holder, for the longest book It is also one of the best New Adventures to date.

Oddly enough, it is almost the novel I'd expected Strange England to be. Bizarre events again take place in a large manor house over which the Doctor has no control, but Falls the Shadow is without a doubt the superior book. O'Mahony's writing style is very readable and compelling.

The book was undoubtedly inspired in part by the Sapphire and Steel television series. The concept of time as an evil entity capable of breaking through into this world is present in Falls the Shadow but whilst the characters on the cover (Gabriel and Tanith) are suggestive of the time agent duo, these entities are thoroughly evil.

The continuity references are slight but relevant; there are interesting links with both Black Orchid and The Time Monster; the latter of which raises an interesting question concerning the possible consequences of the Doctor's failure to clear up loose ends after his previous adventures.

The book benefits greatly from a very small cast of characters in a largely restrictive and claustrophobic situation, which allows for a high degree of in-depth characterisation of both the regulars and the introduced players.

The novel takes a while to get going, but once it does, it is a roller-coaster ride to the finish. To appreciate its full impact, I recommend reading it in as fewer sessions as possible. Allow yourself a few clear hours, as it quickly becomes unputdownable. Falls the Shadow is as close to faultless as any New Adventure to date. The one major flaw isn't really O'Mahony's fault; Ace and particularly Bernice suffer an unusually high degree of physical and emotional trauma; yet the fallout from these experiences are not carried over into the next book.

The book contains very harrowing scenes of psychological horror and graphic descriptions of torture and death. I would not recommend without reservation it to the young or the faint-hearted. This is an adult piece of literature as much deserving of a place in the horror genre as it does in the world of Doctor Who.

This item appeared in TSV 42 (January 1995).

Index nodes: Falls the Shadow