Another Doctor Who talking book from the bbc, telling an all new story for the Doctor that hasn't appeared before in any other form.
This runs for seventy five minutes [approx] and it's basically one long episode, the only breaks on the cd being the usual chapter ones.
Exceptionally minimal sleeve notes give copyright details. And nothing much else.
The story is read by Raquel Cassidy, who appeared in the recent Doctor Who tv episodes 'The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People.'
The blurb on the product description and on the back of the box implies something that focuses on the Doctor and friends fighting a monster in an art gallery. But that's not really what this is like. Because it has a very different focus.
It's all seen through the eyes of Penelope, a young lady who works at the Horizon Gallery. A place that contains the best view of the Paradox. A strange portion of the sky that is unlike nothing you have ever seen before. Penelope's job is to mind the room from which you can see the view. It's an unventful and dull job. Until the day when a strange man who calls himself the Doctor suddenly appears in the room.
He's fallen through a crack in time. Become separated from Amy and Rory. Then he and Penelope find something dangerous might be lurking in the Paradox itself.
This is just the first in a series of encounters that await Penelope, which will change the course of her life...
Raquel Cassidy does a good reading, and a pretty good impersonation of the voices of each of the TARDIS crew. You do get very used to her after a short while. There are some pretty scary moments in the middle of this, in a scene that is delightfully atmospheric and is enhanced by listening to it with the lights off. It's also one of those Doctor Who stories that uses the concept of time travel to the fullest. Making a plot that you might have to concentrate hard on in order to keep up with at points, but is well worth it in the end.
There are points where the reading is rather quiet and a little tricky to hear, but that's down to the nature of the scenes in question, so that's a minor complaint. Because the focus on Penelope does make for a strong story and make her a very strong character whom you can become rather attached to by the end.
A clever and atmospheric piece of work, and possibly the best in this range so far. Well worth a listen.
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Unlike the CLASSIC SERIES novelisation audiobooks released AUDIOGO, the NEW SERIES tie-in releases have been a wild hit-and-miss affair over recent months, ranging from mildly distracting (with irritating readings) to electrifyingly absorbing. With that said, it is difficult how to categorise the product; are they a valuable spin-off from the television series, or a contractual oddity written into an actor's obligation as part of filming for their televised episode, or a vanity project by BBC WALES?
So, where does James Goss' DOCTOR WHO - THE ART OF DEATH single-disc release squeeze into that `hit-and-miss' analysis?
Simply, an unalloyed `hit'.
With the Doctor dipping through a crack in time - no, a different one to THE ELEVENTH HOUR - occasionally materialising in the HORIZON GALLERY, home to an universal anomaly, the Paradox, and it's undervalued gallery attendant, Penelope. Resolving, "Don't blink" into "Don't stare", the Paradox is an impossibility that terminally entrances humanity with its inherent beauty but what entity within it is hungry for death.
In effect THE ART OF DEATH is a `Doctor-lite' story that has literary construct links with BLINK that allows the Penelope to carry the narrative forward, punctuated by timely appearances by the Time Lord, Amy and hapless Rory. This approach works as the character is belongs to our `real world'; her frailties are accurately captured, as are her thoughts. Lonely thoughts. Desperate thoughts. Thoughts that would not be out of kilter for a potential TARDIS travelling companion it would seem.
Goss' writing is, to be honest, a revelation; authentic, clear, charmingly witty with a strength of reality that is often errant in the audiobooks aimed at children. "His breath was bad. Ever so bad. Strong coffee, old milk and dead fish" is gloriously pure and defines the despotic HORIZON GALLERY owner, Mr. Silver.
Along with James Goss' diamond-standard plot & script, it is Rachel Cassidy's reading lifts this audiobook infinitely beyond mediocrity. Her performance is unhurried permitting the chilling events within the Horizon Gallery to be savoured like Fava beans and a nice Chianti. However, if there was a minor `direction fault' to highlight, whilst her narration `voice' is reassuring it is her performance of the garrulous Time Lord that is at fault. Frequently, it's too broad, too comic to be believable; a hybrid of HI DE HI's Peggy Ollerenshaw and a constipated squealing baboon attempting to `pass a solid'.
It's a minor point but, regrettably, reassigns the release from faultless to accomplished.
This is a semi-psychological adventure that unfurls like the Great Reaper's cloak billowing through the corridors the art gallery, and with touches of death as subtle as that of a brushstroke across a masterpiece's canvas the terror of the Paradox is finally revealed. And, unlike other NEW SERIES audiobook's denouement, the revelation of that `terror' will impress and satisfy in equal measure.
With no set piece explosions, no alien invasions and devoid of flimflam, DOCTOR WHO - THE ART OF DEATH is generous, intelligent and siren.
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