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Audio Book Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who
Forever Autumn


Author: Mark Morris
Read by: Will Thorp
BBC Audio
RRP: £9.99 (CD), £6.60 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 4056 8885 7 (CD), 978 1 4056 4691 8 (download)
Available 03 March 2008

It is almost Halloween in the sleepy New England town of Blackwood Falls. Leaves litter lawns and sidewalks, paper skeletons hang in windows, and carved pumpkins leer from front porches. The Doctor and Martha soon discover that something long dormant has awoken, and this will be no ordinary Halloween. What is the secret of the ancient tree and the book discovered tangled in its roots? What rises from the churchyard at night, sealing the lips of the only witness? Why are the harmless trappings of the season taking on a creepy new life of their own? As nightmarish creatures prowl the streets, the Doctor and Martha must battle to prevent both the townspeople and themselves from suffering a grisly fate...

Horror writer Mark Morris sticks to what he knows best in Forever Autumn. The book is intended to be suitable for a young audience, so there’s nothing truly nightmare-inducing here, though the author (who has also penned two previous Doctor Who novels for BBC Books: the Eighth Doctor book The Bodysnatchers and the Fifth Doctor adventure Deep Blue) ticks all the right boxes in terms of the genre. From eerie green mist and possessed cats to sinister fancy dress costumes, a creepy happening is never very far away - despite the fact that the unpleasant fate of the town’s alcoholic former physician has been cut from this abridged version of the story (though the event is still mentioned in the back-cover blurb).

The original novel’s atmospheric opening has also been removed, which is a pity, since it deprives us of some of the story’s build-up and background to Rick Pirelli and his family, especially Rick’s relationship with his older brother Chris. Instead, the audio book kicks off with the arrival of the Doctor and Martha. Reducing the presence of some of the supporting characters has its benefits, however, as the author seemed to struggle to find things to do with them all in the print version of this book.

The baddies are Jack Skellington look-alikes called the Hervoken. Morris anticipates comparisons between his creatures’ magical methods and those of the Carrionites from The Shakespeare Code by having the Doctor explain that the two species were once ancient rivals, until the Eternals stepped in and banished both of them.

The tale is read by Will Thorp, who played Toby in the episodes The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit. He gives a suitably ominous reading, though his vocalisation of the Tenth Doctor’s trademark babbling grates on the nerves somewhat.

Nevertheless, like Halloween itself, Forever Autumn is essentially good, harmless fun.


Richard McGinlay

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