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on 17 February 2015
The Doctor, Amy and Rory find themselves staying at a convalescence home in late eighteenth century Italy. But how did they end up there and are the residents really recovering?

It soon becomes apparent that this book is a bit different from most Doctor Who novels. It takes a fairly unique approach of relaying events through a series of letters, diary entries and recollections. This allows the story to be told from different perspectives. Thus things are, perhaps, not always as they seem as they are based upon individual perceptions. It also allows for three different styles of writing that reflect the various characters. Maria’s letters are clearly the words of a sensible but frightened aristocratic child that still looks on the world with wonder. Her letters allow her to become a very endearing character. In contrast Bloom’s diary entries are proper and reserved but littered with increasing adult concerns and paranoia. The neurosis he increasingly exhibits helps to make his character sympathetic, making him more a victim than a villain. Amy’s recollections are blunt and honest and very much in character.

As interesting as this style is to start with it does become a little repetitive as the novel progresses and begins to work less well. For the uncertainty and mystery in the earlier half it works brilliantly, adding to the atmosphere and confusion. Once what is happening becomes more apparent the book has to rely on action more and its format doesn’t lend itself well to this. It also takes some suspension of belief to think that the characters had the time or the inclination in the middle of some events to sit down and write about them. The text is not all retrospective. Furthermore, once things start to be revealed the approach slowly stops disguising that the plot is, perhaps, a little bland and that not a great deal actually happens.

The character of the Doctor is quite vague in the book. To be fair this is partly the effect of the plot machinations. But even when this stage has passed the Eleventh Doctor’s character doesn’t quite come out. Rory’s character also suffers as the novel tends to only concentrate on the moodier, frustrated or envious sides of his character. He appears to have very little liking for the Doctor in this book. Amy is drawn brilliantly though. Her personality and thought patterns are beautifully presented through the system of her re-collections.

The novel’s role in this ‘History Collection’ is a little questionable. It definitely has a historical setting but it doesn’t focus on historical events at all. There is some talk concerning the future rise of Napoleon but this isn’t particularly relevant unless Boris is to take Napoleon’s place in history. There is a suggestion of this in the novel but it doesn’t seem a likely circumstance. The general storyline could easily take place in any type of convalescence home in any period.

Full credit for an original and very intriguing approach. However, when the novelty fades the story tails off a bit and interest wanes.
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on 16 August 2015
This tome is a relatively dark and unsettling member of the world’s greatest science fiction franchise. The book opens with Amy, Rory and The Doctor enjoying each other’s company in the TARDIS when they lose control of it and it crashes. It soon becomes apparent that Amy was hurt the most but the trio find themselves in a hospital of sorts, in 18th century Italy. You would think that would be good news, but certain residents of the establishment soon convince the Doctor that the establishment is somewhat less than it appears to be.

The Doctor’s first friend in the story is a delightful young girl by the name of Maria, who writes moving letters to her Mother, begging to be allowed home. She immediately catches onto the Doctor’s friendly nature and spirit and the pair agree by page 22 that ’... This is no place for a child ...’ Other characters populate the book (naturally) and some of them are less than completely wholesome.

The writing style deserves a mention. I was concerned when i read the excellent introduction that it would not match my own reading style but that concern can be written off immediately. Its ’... Mostly composes of letters and diary entries ...’ But i can say right here and how, that it works. In fact, it more than works, it zings.

The book is classic Who, its fabbity-fab, its compelling, its spooky, its profoundly moving and mysterious.

Not bad for a sci-fi novel, is it? And of course, I won’t even mention the ending.

Full marks from an unabashed fan of this (hopefully) everlasting phenomena.

BFN Greggorio!
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on 17 June 2011
I adore Doctor Who, especially the recent two series, and I hadn't bothered to investigate the novels till very recently. I bought three of them in a deal to read during a week holiday; Hunters Moon, Night of the Humans and this book, Dead of Winter. I was immediately absorbed, I read all three during the week, and I enjoyed them all, but this was by far my favourite.

The narrative came across a little causally for my taste at first, but this feeling didn't last for very long at all. I like my narrative to be dark, complex, and thick with difficult observations and descriptions. But this is written from the character's POV so naturally and easily that it flows like water, and even though it is easily read, the observations are strange, intelligent and twist your expectations brilliantly. It is fun, exciting and and a great insight into Amy, the Doctor and Rory's inner monologue. The overall plot seemed a bit loose at times, but that is more than made up for in its character exploration and plot twists. I put down the book on the plane back home at 2am, smiling.
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on 28 August 2012
This is a really entertaining Who yarn. A perfect, creepy setting in an era little explored by Who fiction with a great cast of characters. I thoroughly recommend it.

There is a downside, however. The author has chosen to narrate the story through daily journal extracts and letters penned by the various characters. This does provide an interesting multi-narrator view on the action, but it does begin to stretch credibility as the pace of action and events increases. It left me wondering when these characters were supposed to have taken a moment aside from the horror to pen their thoughts in a journal. The style of these also slips between personal commentary and standard narrative in places. These journals are a device which should probably have been used more sparingly.
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VINE VOICEon 13 July 2011
One of the first signs that something different is happening here is that a great many of the novel's chapters are written in the first person, which provides an excellent insight into the minds of our favourite characters from an unusual perspective (with perplexing memory loss as an added ingredient for the TARDIS crew, a device that elegantly reduces the risk of any spoilers to zero). Dead of Winter is set in 18th century Italy, so it's quite appropriate that much of the novel is written in the form of letters, as the epistolary novel was very much in vogue at this time. James Goss also makes full use of the fact that this is a novel to play a few tricks on us regarding the identity of various characters, which works very well in prose, but couldn't happen on TV.

Once again, there's an adrift alien at the heart of the mystery, which is a trope that Steven Moffat's Doctor Who seems to like revisiting. Dead of Winter`s also very much in keeping with the current run of Doctor Who novels with regards to its casual references to British popular culture, and for a having a child at the core of the story. There's also a lovely nod to the TV series, as Dr. Smith tells Maria (the aforementioned child, who's been abandoned by her mother) his secret name... Which all leads to a rather lovely and ingenious twist in the plot. James Goss also has some rather nice references to Amy Pond's menage a trois with Rory and the Doctor in the TV series. Also, very much in keeping with my view of the current series, Rory expresses some misgivings about the Doctor's methods, as he investigates just how Dr. Bloom is curing patients with TB over a century ahead of time... In an addition to this, there's quite a few doppelgangers hanging around, which adds to the drama and the mystery, although (fortunately enough) they're not of the `ganger' variety. There's another echo with the current series with regards to a deadly incident that very much affects the Doctor... And, I don't know, with all the fog, the duplicates, and the sea, James Goss may also be harking back to the Horror of Fang Rock from the classic series of Doctor Who. James Goss certainly knows his stuff, as he should do, since he's run the BBC's Doctor Who website. However, there's not a hint of nepotism in Albert DePetrillo's commissioning of this book, since James Goss is a damn fine writer whose novel has been published on its own sublime literary merits. Indeed, James Goss' Dead Air achieved the mighty accolade of Audiobook of the Year of the year in 2010, which is a very mighty achievement for a Doctor Who book. In addition to this, James Goss writes a blog called The Agatha Christie Reader, and his love of her work also finds its way into Dead of Winter via some subtle asides. What complicates things even further is the disappearance of the TARDIS, which turns out to be due to a little used facility of the Doctor's time vessel... And there's the rather neat revelation that the Doctor doesn't actually speak English! Who are the mysterious ghostly figures that rise up from the sea and dance with the patients on the shore? And why does Prince Boris' manservant have a habit of floating inches from the ground? You'll find out all this and more in the rather excellent Dead of Winter, which is far more fantastically lively and thrilling than its title would suggest.
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An original Doctor Who novel, telling an all new story for the Eleventh Doctor - plus companions Amy and Rory - which hasn't been told before in any other medium.

The characterisation of the three main characters is spot on and you can easily imagine the actors who play them saying the dialogue.

The book runs for two hundred and fifty five pages. And it's divided into many short chapters, the majority of which run from a single page to three to five.

It's suitable for readers of all ages but there are some rather dark and emotional moments so I would advise parental discretion for the under tens.

The story sees the TARDIS crash land near a sanitorium in eighteenth century Italy. A place where people from across Europe with tuberculosis are under the care of a Doctor who is pioneering a new treatment into their condition. One that involves taking in an awful lot of sea air.

The TARDIS crew are experiencing some memory loss and thus aren't sure why they are there or of a few things about themselves. But dark things are happening here that shouldn't be taking place, and threaten the course of history. And some very painful choices are going to have to be made...

This breaks the usual format for these books in just having one single narration in that each chapter is told from a different point of view. The Doctor Amy and Rory all get their go, but other supporting characters in the book do as well. The bulk of them are in the form of letters that a young girl who is at the place has written to her mother in Paris.

This is initially a little slow to get going but that's because of the memory loss for the TARDIS crew and the slow reveal of what's happening via careful investigation.

There are some very big plot surprises to be had, and this book does manage to wrong foot the reader right up to the very end.

But key to it are some intriguing moral dilemmas. The goings on aren't the work of any out and out evil villains. Everyone involved has very believable motivations that will give you pause for thought.

It also does the relationship between the Doctor and his two companions exceptionally well, not shying away from tackling how Rory feels about the Doctor and his relationship with Amy.

An absorbing read that constantly surprises and makes you think and does the characters well, this is one of the best in this range
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on 29 November 2014
all books from doctor who are amazing - this one is different and is told through diary accounts, but still a good read
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on 13 March 2015
Great story and very interesting introduction written for this 'History Collection' edition.
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on 7 June 2011
I loved the perspectives used as it gives the plot more depth and we can see it in the eyes of Amy, the girl Maria, Rory's and Dr. Blooms. being the main views that remain constant.

I loved the end plot twist, it was surprising to say the least. But I won't reveal it. the use of the characters involved was well thought out, even if they are in minor roles but they all had a part to play.

I couldn't put it down, I read it in one day and enjoyed it, this book is one of my favorites of the Matt Smith's era as Doctor. I ordered it on my kindle and it was worth the read.
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on 8 June 2015
This was a present for my mum, arrived quickly and she loved it
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