Darker days are drawing near

Darker days are drawing near

“When the bell finally rang, Rick Pirelli almost burst with excitement.”

This is only my third year writing this blog, but already traditions have sprung up. Most notably is the idea that each Hallowe’en, I read a book that is thematically suitable. Two years ago, that was The Haunted Book, a collection of genuinely terrifying ghost stories. Last year, it was Hallowe’en Party, a murder mystery with extra apple bobbing thrown in. This year, I figured it made sense to go for a book with a pumpkin on the front, hence Forever Autumn.

Suffice to say, while I won’t give up the tradition of spooky books around the end of October, I think I am giving up Doctor Who novelisations.

I’ve read some good ones, although often they’re the ones about the older Doctors. David Tennant’s live wire Tenth Doctor simply doesn’t work on paper. He needs to be springing about like a jackrabbit with three thousand volts up its bum. But I’m getting ahead of myself. You know I don’t like it, but here’s why.

The story takes place in New England (that’s New England on Old Earth, rather than New England on New Earth) in around 2008. Three teenage boys, Rick, Scott and Thad, are exploring their Hallowe’en-obsessed town of Blackwood Falls when they notice the gnarled, old tree at the bottom of Rick’s garden has started to glow green. They proceed to dig up the soil and find an ancient book full of weird writing. Rick hides the book under his bed and tries not to think about it.

However, the theft of this book has awoken the Hervoken, a race of pumpkin-headed skeletons whose spaceship has crashed where the town now sits. They are a race that cares only for their own needs, not worrying if they hurt anyone else in the process of doing what needs to be done. Enveloping the town in a green mist, they set about a plan of action, to get their book back, as well as find enough fuel to allow their ship to take off once more.

I know that Doctor Who is technically for kids, I do know that, but these days the show is definitely wired to get as big of an audience as possible, so it contains themes, jokes and issues that will go over the head of your average eight-year-old. Also, it helps that Peter Capaldi doesn’t seem in the least like someone who would be appropriate for kids television. But the novels are definitely geared at the younger audience, written with simplistic style and, in this case, with twelve-year-old heroes who speak with the defiance and measure of people much older.

Oh, sure, there are a couple of really creepy bits in here, can’t say there aren’t, but as I said above, it lacks the energy of the show. None of the characters sound different enough to be interesting, and I include the Doctor in that. He has a habit of waffling on about irrelevant topics to an even greater degree than on television, and the author has done his utmost to throw in as many references to events in the show as possible, clogging the text with them.

There’s an attempt at showing that Hallowe’en traditions have sprung up because of humans early, and now legendary, interactions with these aliens, but it’s not given much page time, so it’s impossible to say how far this effect goes. This may well be a series where the unbelievable happens on a weekly basis, but I’m still going to need something that makes me care about these characters. It’s like meeting an old friend and finding their personality has been replaced.

So, while I support the notion of reading a scary book for Hallowe’en, I wouldn’t go for this one.

If you want to try something a bit different, a bit gory, and a bit creepier, you could try my debut novel The Atomic Blood-stained Bus, available from Amazon, iTunes and SmashWords for any e-reader device.