Home : Archive : TSV 41-50 : TSV 45 : Review


By Andrew Cartmel

Book review by Chris Girdler

Andrew Cartmel's Warlock is a thrilling New Adventure that ignores the tried and true conventions of Doctor Who but still comes up trumps. It is strongly anti-vivisection without preachiness and investigates drugs, with a plot revolving around a mysterious new pill known as 'Warlock'.

These themes are cleverly combined when three characters see things from an animal's perspective during a horrific laboratory experiment. Well-written they may be but these sequences serve as obvious padding. What they lack is the gritty realism that worked so well in the early chapters: the paranoia and tension of the drug deal is never recaptured and the way 'Miss Winterhill' is included in these chapters is absolutely brilliant. That the author prefers Earth-bound settings involving realistic human dramas is obvious, the only hint of other-worldliness is through the seldom-seen Doctor, the intricacies of 'Warlock' and a frightening show of power by Vincent.

The chapters set in Kent are easy to visualise, especially the Doctor's house which is captured with an attention to detail that only real-life experience can provide. Justine and Vincent (from Warhead) make a welcome return but the best character is Creed, an unorthodox cop haunted by his past love and present addictions. The book centres on the unpredictable exploits of these characters within the distinctive yet unsettingly future of England. It speeds along like a street movie filled with cops, drugs and dealers but little that you'd usually come by in a typical Doctor Who television episode.

The third part of the 'War' trilogy - Warchild - will, presumably, concern the child of Justine and Vincent. Warlock is a remarkable read but Cartmel's unique style is fast improving since his debut and I'm certain his best is yet to come. His greatest triumph would be a novel of this calibre with a stronger role for the lead characters. When the Doctor, Ace or Benny do appear, he captures their personalities perfectly, so it's a shame that they are hidden so far in the background of such an intriguing book. (8/10)

This item appeared in TSV 45 (September 1995).

Index nodes: Warlock