Top critical review
The Hollow Men
on 29 May 2013
The Hollow Men is the 2nd outing for the 7th Doctor in the PDA range and also the 2nd book of the range to be written by Keith Topping and Martin Day. There first was the very first book of the range "The Devil Goblins From Neptune" which was severely lacking in my opinion. I needn't have been worried though this novel is far more interesting than the previous effort.
The premise of The Hollow Men is that a village called Hexen Bridge has been visited by a great evil and it's residents now rarely leave, nor do many newcomers arrive. As such there's a lot of inter breeding and sense of close knit community. The Doctor has been visiting on and off for 4 lifetimes and only now are events going to take there final turn as an ancient evil stirs beneath the green.
The authors have you follow the residents of the village, most of which are up to no good and are obviously possessed with the taint of the evil beneath the village. The evil (Jack) is planning to harness the fear and terror of the people of Liverpool to grow stronger and take over the Earth, and it's using the residents to achieve this. It's all gripping stuff.
However my joy with The Hollow Men did start to wane somewhat towards the end. Falling into the same trap as they did in The Devil Goblins From Neptune, the authors suddenly spin the entire story on it's head which changes the tone, and in this case also my enjoyment.
Character wise you know it's the 7th Doctor and Ace. They've both been done to death in book form, so they are really easy to write for, however Topping & Day have managed to create an air of mystery around the Doctor, which was what the producers wanted from the 7th Doctor in the late 80's. You learn very early on that the Doctor has had a relationship with Hexen Bridge for over 4 lifetimes and you wonder why he would go to such lengths. You then realize that this ties in nicely with the manipulator image which the 7th Doctor was associated with, and you can't help but smile. Ace is, well Ace, she gets very little to do other than blow stuff up and attack things, but you can't fault the authors for this given the time period it was set.
The supporting cast are all a bit stereotypical but interesting nonetheless, the authors make it clear that the people of Hexen Bridge are good deep down, but all have bad traits which Jack manipulates. Hatch is the only character who is shown to be bad through and through, and only because he is being controlled by Jack.
In summary The Hollow Men started off as a first class PDA but ended as a mediocre one due to some pretty shocking plot twists. The good bits do outnumber the bad bits though and it's a far cry from the sometimes mundane The Devil Goblins From Neptune. I do feel that Topping and Day do have the potential to write a 5 star Doctor Who novel, but sadly this isn't it.