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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
Wishing Well


Author: Trevor Baxendale
Read by: Debbie Chazen
BBC Audio
RRP: £9.99 (CD), £6.60 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 4084 0042 5 (CD), 978 1 4084 9908 5 (download)
Available 10 July 2008

An old well in a Derbyshire village seems like just a curiosity, something to attract tourists intrigued by stories of lost treasure, or visitors merely wanting to make a wish. But could something alien and terrifying be lurking inside the well, something utterly monstrous that causes nothing but death and destruction? Who knows the real truth about the well? Who wishes to unleash the hideous force it contains? What terrible consequences will follow the search for the legendary treasure hidden at the bottom? No one wants to believe the Doctor’s warnings about the deadly horror lying in wait, but soon they’ll wish they had...

Like its predecessor Forever Autumn, this present-day Earthbound tale taps into some primal fears. Trevor Baxendale, the man who brought us the unnerving Eater of Wasps, Fear of the Dark and The Deadstone Memorial, skilfully weaves with archetypes such as a doomsaying tramp, an ancient skeleton, a very unfortunate cat, a surly lord of the manor and a couple of villagers from the Miss Hawthorne school of eccentric but helpful old ladies. The Doctor’s descent into the dark depths of the well remains chilling in this abridged version.

The author further keeps us on tenterhooks by leaving certain characters in the midst of a dramatic situation and then not revisiting them until several chapters later. For instance, we have to wait to discover the fate of a possessed treasure-hunter, and while the Doctor is left quite literally hanging in the well - though ultimately the cliffhanging chapter ending in question is a bit cheeky, as it might have you expecting an old enemy.

Debbie Chazen, who played Foon Van Hoff in Voyage of the Damned, may seem like an odd choice of reader for this audio book. Surely the ominous tones of Will Thorp would be better suited to this creepy tale, you might think (as I did, at first). However, Chazen gives a good reading, and is particularly adept at bringing the characters of the two old ladies, Angela Hook and Sadie Brown, to life. She also captures the Doctor’s tones and is pitch-perfect as Martha Jones.

In abridging this story, Steve Tribe omits the tragic backstory of Angela Hook and Henry Gaskin, though he also tightens up the final few chapters of the book, which flounder a little in the print version.

Lee Binding’s cover illustration still doesn’t match the author’s description of the well, which, in the narrative, lacks a roof and, for the most part, a rope.

But I’m being harsh - well harsh. Overall, this is a well-written and well-read book.


Richard McGinlay

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