Cat's Cradle: Witch Mark (New Doctor Who Adventures) Mass Market Paperback – 18 Jun 1992
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A story featuring the further adventures of the time traveller Dr Who, as he journeys through time and space with a variety of companions.
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Top Customer Reviews
After the events in Time’s Crucible and Warhead, the first two books in the Cat’s Cradle trilogy, the Tardis is in need of restoration, and the Doctor and Ace visit an old friend of the Doctor’s in Wales, to stay for a while, and have a break. Meanwhile, strange events appear to be underway in the life of Bathsheba, who fears she has been given the witch mark; and Inspector Anderson is called out to an odd accident, involving a coach, where all the passengers’ luggage appears to be stuffed full of money.
I found this book a bit of a miss; after the first two books in the trilogy, it was definitely a letdown. But, more than that, I think it failed largely as a standalone read in itself. It tries, it seems to me, to be a blend of a myth/fantasy novel with a Doctor Who novel; and sadly fails at both. The idea of the Welsh countryside having portals to another world, that of Tír na n-Óg, where besieged humans defend themselves against beasts and demons is one thing. The idea of the Doctor and Ace, in that same Welsh countryside, facing the effects of that portal and its effect on the ‘real’ world is another thing. Both ideas could work. But this one really doesn’t work as a blend.
There are a lot of characters introduced, in both worlds, about whom I really couldn’t care much as to their ultimate fate, or indeed their immediate motivations.Read more ›
The Doctor and Ace discover a link between a sleepy rural hamlet and another world, a world populated by unicorns and witches; this world is dying and it's denizens are coming to our world to escape certain death.
This is the final volume in the CAT'S CRADLE trilogy, it ends in a satisfying manner and is to date, the jewel in the crown of the NEW ADVENTURES series...
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The plot turns out to be slightly poorer than it really should be. To make a long story short, this is the tale of a quest across a strange and magical land, filled with centaurs, unicorns, trolls and other unworldly creatures. Unfortunately, that's all the story is. The Doctor and Ace begin their trek fairly early in the book, but by the three-quarters mark, they are still pretty much in the same state that they were in the beginning, the plot not having budged an inch. Don't get me wrong now, I don't mind a story that's padded, as long as the padding consists of interesting material, sparking prose and enough entertaining substance to maintain the reader's attention. This is not what we got here. And on top of that, after one has struggled through pages and pages that don't amount to anything, the resolution is shockingly quick and far too simple. I do not have a problem with the Doctor talking his way through a solution; in fact, I think some of the best stories have been enhanced by featuring a clever and witty Doctor who is able to mentally run rings around his opponent. Unfortunately, the level of argument has to be of a higher quality than what we ended up with here. Having the Doctor more or less saying, "Don't do this evil thing" and giving the villain no greater of a response than, "Gee, okay" does not make for an exciting resolution.
Even more appalling than the lackluster outcome to the villain's evil scheme is the fact that there are numerous plot threads that are just left dangling. Character motivations that one expected to be explained by the end of the book simply aren't addressed. There are many sequences that only work if you don't think about them too much and forget them before you reach the ending. If one happens to go back and start picking things apart, one will find a host of actions and scenes that were simply left unresolved. It really leaves a bad taste in one's mouth.
WITCH MARK features two of the worst portrayed Americans that the series has ever seen. In their introduction, the author is so intent on making sure they're recognizably American, that he moves them way beyond Cliché American and Stereotypical American and blasts them somewhere into the realm of Ludicrously American and Overwhelmingly Fake American. Make no mistake, if this was a televised story, then they'd both end up sounding exactly like the oh-so-American guy in TOMB OF THE CYBERMEN who went around spouting off macho nonsensical dialog such as, "Hey, some character's gone an' bahlled up tha loh-t!", "C'mon, let's get back to tha rah-ket!", and "Hey, Vic!" Not exactly the soft, realistic character study that one should be aiming for.
The other characters aren't much better. The Doctor and Ace aren't acting like their usual selves. The Seventh Doctor seems at times to be behaving like any incarnation other than the current one. Ace is back to being a silly teenager who appears to have completely bypassed the events of REVELATION and WARHEAD. Secondary characters are similarly poor, with special mention going to the idiot, lisping priest. Future authors should take note: speech impediments aren't really all that funny, and there's nothing more annoying than reading dialog that incorporates a heavy lisp. I was begging for the character to give a quick wink to the audience, shout "Thufferin' thuccotath!", and then take a flying leap towards the nearest window.
The book does have a few things working for it. The mixture of science fiction and fantasy is actually quite interesting. There was the potential here for everything to be rationalized away in an extremely boring "here's the way magic and science really work" speech, yet it rose above these would-be pitfalls. The relationship between Tir na n-Og and "real" Earth somehow managed to come across without feeling cheap. The story was straightforward enough and could be fairly enjoyable in a leave-your-brain-at-the-door type of way. It just isn't at all satisfying.
In the end, sloppy writing and elemental mistakes really hurt this book. What should have been a mind-blowing ending to the Cat's Cradle series turns out to be a fairly standard run-around in fantasy-land. The story itself is hurt by a lack of coherence and a dearth of uninteresting characters. Definitely not one of the better written NAs.
The concluding book in the Cat's Cradle trilogy, this one is plainly the work of a first-time author. While every author must write a first book, that is not necessarily ever published. Mr. Hunt shows that he needed more experience to make this book work. I could give a list of faults, but basically they all come down to that he doesn't understand how a book works. This is not to say that he has no potential!
Add to this that it is of a type that I don't like (explaining myths and legends as science fiction) means that it certainly wasn't a good read for me.