Doctor Who Forever Autumn audiobook review

Rob scares himself silly with a Halloween Who adventure. Even though it's nowhere near Halloween!

With the new Who series well underway, this audiobook release comes out in good time for those who cannot wait an entire week for their fix of Who goodness. I must admit this is only the second Doctor Who audiobook I’ve listened to, but I must say that if all the rest of the BBC releases are this good, I might just have to pop onto Amazon and check out the rest.

Written by Mark Morris, this adventure is read by Will Thorp, whose voice I didn’t recognise (when I was a nipper, all audiobooks were spoken by Wendy Craig). However, according to the ramble on the back of the cover, Will was in season 2’s Who episode The Satan Pit (he was the one the makeup people went mad with a Crayola on). Famous or not, all I can say is that he did a superb job here, getting to grips with the prose and providing a very gripping, scary and exciting adventure.

I must admit it is quite difficult to get scared listening to an audio adventure via iPod on the train on the way to work. But this was a very tight tale written in the same vein as the horror-focused Steven Moffat shows we have come to love over the past few series of the new show. A mix of Sleepy Hollow, Hammer Horror and the classic Buffy episode Hush, the story takes place on Halloween in New England. The book sets a well-described scene: fields of corn, rustic farms, eerie pumpkin lanterns and ancient trees. Setting this moody atmosphere made it very easy to be pulled into a chilly, darkened October world with apple bobbing, trick-or-treaters and dark autumnal evenings (even though I listened to the book mostly going back and forth to work in an equally chilly March and April) when the Doctor and Martha (thank goodness it wasn’t Tate!) appear for the festivities in Blackwood Falls. Looking forward to some north American hospitality, the duo settle themselves in, but before you can say “Stephen King!” the town is soon overrun with nightmarish creatures. The dead rise and an ancient mystery surrounds a strange tome found deep in the roots of an old, gnarled tree…

In spite of a few Halloween clichés (such as evil pumpkin lanterns coming to life) the story is well-paced, tightly written and in some parts quite nasty, as some of the town folk come to rather grisly ends. While this is an Earth-bound Who adventure, Mark Morris could potentially have created a story that would have blown an entire series of televised Who with huge invading alien armadas or ghostly armies or such, given that the medium needs only your imagination to make it work and thus has a virtually unlimited budget. Instead, he chooses to play within certain limitations of believeability and (if I dare call it this!) realism. This firm handling of scares, shocks and character moments adds to the adventure greatly, creating a tense well-developed tale which plays with the preconceptions we all already have about New England (Salem, witches and such). Morris also demonstrates a firm grip on the character of Tennant’s Doctor, writing him (and Martha) exactly the way you’d see them on the telly.

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Overall, this was a great new way to experience Who, and credit is due to the entire production crew, writers and to Will Thorp for developing and creating a story which plays out very much like a tight two-parter of the current series (it’s a bit long for a single episode, since it has a runtime of two and a half hours).


4 out of 5