Dead of Winter by James Goss

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The Doctor, Amy and Rory crash land in 18th century Italy. The injured time-travellers are taken to a mysterious clinic where Doctor Bloom’s pioneering cure for consumption could threaten the Earth’s history.

Dead of Winter is written in the first person, from the points of view of various characters staying in the clinic.  Written as verbal accounts from Amy and Rory, and letters and journals from some of the ‘guest cast’. It’s a great way of exploring motivations and perspectives in a story with no out-and-out villain. It does mean that the characters are taking time out of the action to dash off missives; and the in the case of the young girl, Maria, leave cliff-hangers in her letters to her mother. But this does not detract from the telling of this creepy and atmospheric tale.

The lack of a clear villain with an evil plan is not out of place in the series six milieu that begat Dead of Winter. It places the Eleventh Doctor in a moral quandary where there is no straight-forward solution to save the day. He’s faced similar difficult decisions in The Beast Below or The Girl Who Waited. It’s interesting to read this book again now we’re in the Twelfth Doctor era. His immediate predecessor seems to lament not being a straight-forward hero; wistfully murmuring, “Those were the days,” in Closing Time and The Snowmen. The Twelfth Doctor just doesn’t really care to be the hero. Ultimately, when faced with a difficult decision In Kill the Moon he abdicates responsibility.

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There seems to be a feeling that the BBC novels inspired by rebooted Doctor Who are skewed firmly at younger readers, and that they lack the depth of the Virgin and BBC-published output that covered the first eight Doctors. It’s certainly the view on the excellent Doctor Who Book Club podcast. It’s not without foundation, but this book would not be out of place in either of the wilderness years ranges. James Goss has since written The Blood Cell for Capaldi’s Doctor. They share the first-person narrative and a knack for exploring familiar character dynamics in a new way, with a wry, knowing humour. In particular this book digs into the complex relationship of the Doctor, Amy and Rory.

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Buy Dead of Winter from Amazon:

Doctor Who: Dead of Winter: The History Collection

Audio book:

Doctor Who: Dead Of Winter

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