The New Adventure range of stories were an ambitious venture, novels designed to be bigger and broader than the small screen could have allowed, and to feed Doctor Who fans’ imaginations after the cancellation of the show on tv in 1989. This book, the third in the Cat’s Cradle trilogy, was the seventh book in the New Adventures range, and was first published in 1992.
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. The backpackers, the police, the mysterious ‘Old Davy’ from the village; I really didn’t get a ‘feel’ for them as characters, and I found it difficult to lose myself in the overall story. The story is important for the few key events at the end, where the Doctor and Ace leave in the Tardis, and there are a few points made there which are carried on in to further New Adventure stories; but apart from that, this is not a story I would want to read again.
on 22 September 2004
So finally, the Virgin New Adventures series comes into its own. After several valiant attempts, some more successful than others (Thankyou Terrance!), Andrew Hunt has produced a fast-paced, virile and intelligent DOCTOR WHO novel, that cleverly develops the Doctor's persona whilst drawing on all the best elements of WHO: misguided sociopaths, unwary backpackers, dodgy village constables, mythical creatures and pagan rituals.
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...