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27 September 2014 @ 05:23 pm
Dark Horizons by Jenny T. Colgan  
I imagine most of you are starting to wonder why I continue to read Dr. Who spinoff novels since I generally find them disappointing and I'm not sure either, to be honest. However, I keep picking up ones I hear recommended to see how I feel about them.

I've lost track a bit of the way the BBC markets Dr. Who books. When the new series first started it was producing paperback sized hardbacks in groups of three, but I'm aware the range has diversified a bit and there are collections of short stories and reprints of pre-new-series books with some rather stunning covers. At any rate this novel isn't a paperback sized hardback but is, in stead, a hardback sized paperback (or possibly a trade paperback but it seems a little small for a trade paperback).

Content-wise Dark Horizons is still fairly squarely aimed at the child and young adult market, however I found myself more tolerant of it here than I have with most of the other books in the range. I think part of that is that it is using a different set of techniques than the other books so instead of feeling that I was looking at a complex story compressed down to a simple telling, this felt more like a children's story from the outset. It has an earnest interest in the historical details of life on 12th century Lewis and that of the Viking raiders who bring the Lewis chessmen to the island. It also employs, at times, both an omniscient narrator and second person narration clearly as techniques that allow the book to talk directly to the reader and cajole them into imagining how the characters are feeling, in a way that feels reminiscent of books I read as a child.

The story itself is a bit rambling with a lot of segments that are, broadly speaking, the narrative equivalent of running down corridors for an episode, but in some ways it was nice to read one of these which doesn't feel like it was sacrificing words in order to fit into some upper limit. There is a slightly irritating young couple in love, but I forgave the book since they have a wonderfully funny reaction to the Tardis.

All the above sounds a bit negative about this book. But I actually did enjoy it more than many of the recent Who books I've read. I think I liked the fact that it wasn't trying to be anything other than what it was, and I appreciated that in taking on the mantle of a children's book it was unashamedly happy to do a bit of historical educating while telling its story.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/128006.html.