Home : Archive : TSV 51-60 : TSV 57 : Review

The Taint

By Michael Collier

Book review by Brad Schmidt

It's very rare indeed that an Eighth Doctor novel sports a cover that actually holds direct relevance to the story inside. It is not so much the image that is so inspiring the addressing of this point, rather the dull black of the cover - which symbolises a main theme of The Taint: that of contrast.

Michael Collier's second contribution - his style barely recognisable from Longest Day - presents a story merging horror with science fiction. Perhaps he tries too hard, as I would rather have seen a sheer horror story lacking the intrusive technobabble (predominant of late) that is too out of place in an English countryside setting.

Finally, the Doctor and Sam have returned to Earth - and it is too long overdue. The action centres primarily on a country estate, with the occasional foray into the city. As if in further homage to The Seeds of Doom, there's a plant stall nearby - but it's far more fateful than that, for here we are introduced to the rampant Fitz Kreiner. Thankfully, the fact that Fitz is destined to become a companion doesn't dominate his character nor give him any greater prominence than the supporting ones. Indeed, not only are we introduced to one Kreiner, but practically the whole family, alongside several other miscreants who seem to be possessed by the Devil - a Devil whose home the Doctor claims to have visited billions of years ago.

Annoyingly, Sam knocks on death's door (so to speak) once more, but thankfully we now have Fitz to entertain us. The Doctor is well established now, and he's aware of it, while Fitz's reckoning of the TARDIS reminds me of how exciting its potential is.

If only Collier had dropped the science fiction altogether and told solely a horror story, The Taint would be perfect. As it stands, he still manages to convey a theme of late; that the enemy we most fear is, ironically, ourselves. [5/5]

This item appeared in TSV 57 (July 1999).

Index nodes: The Taint