Doctor Who: Plague City by Jonathan Morris (book review)

May 10, 2017 | By | Reply More

Welcome to Plague City, where many people won’t survive the night. Thomas and Isobel are nursing their daughter Catherine when the night doctor comes. Everyone knows that visit is a death sentence. Cloaked and with a bird-like mask to keep the sickness at bay, the doctor makes his rounds but is fighting a losing battle against the incurable disease. When he returns later, Catherine is dying and this time he carries her off. She does return the next evening but now it seems she is a spirit who doesn’t know she is dead. She is not the only one as more and more resident die so their ghosts come home to haunt their relatives.

This is Edinburgh, 1645, in the grip of bubonic plague which is carrying of many of its citizens.

The Doctor, Bill and Nardole arrive, hoping that Edinburgh will prove to be entertaining. It’s debatable whether plague is preferable to a festival of jugglers and stilt walkers. Knowing they should probably leave, they decide to explore anyway and, happily, Nardole is persuaded to leave his kilt behind in case he starts a war.

It’s not altogether a surprise that there is more than just the average plague happening here. If that wasn’t bad enough, there is something feeding on the misery. There is a good mix of the historical and the alien in this story with some actual historical figures taking minor roles. It also uses real locations such as Mary Kings’ Close. Jonathan Morris, experienced creator for Big Finish and ‘Doctor Who’ books skilfully creates a story that is engaging and witty whilst gleefully rewriting history. The banter between the team is excellent. Bill’s interactions with the two ladies, Betsy and Agnes, also point up in a natural way her sympathy with the couple who literally live and die in the dark ages of sexual equality.

As one of three novels released to accompany the new series, this captures the spirit of Bill and this time adds in Nardole to the adventure. This presumably means he will get to travel more with the Doctor and Bill as the series progresses but who is guarding the vault?

Sue Davies

May 2017

(pub: BBC Books/Ebury. 256 page hardback. Price: £ 6.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78594-270-9)

check out website: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk/publishers/ebury/ebury-press/

Category: Books, Doctor Who

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