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on 9 March 2017
A highlight of the Virgin Missing Adventures, this is one of the best Fifth Doctor novels. It plunges him into a Gothic sci fi mix not typically associated with his incarnation. The writing is instilled with a strong sense of suspense throughout, giving the story a claustrophobic and paranoid feel. It possesses an atmosphere akin to ‘The Horror of Fang Rock’. More intriguingly, it bares quite a lot of similarities to much later televised story ‘The Impossible Planet / the Satan Pit’, so much so that it is easy to suspect that it probably influenced it.

As a general impression from Doctor Who novels and novelisations it seems that the Fifth Doctor is often a difficult incarnation of the Doctor to fully realise in literary form. The author makes a decent attempt of it here, however., capturing particularly well a more fallible and worried side. After all, this is a story that plays on the Doctor’s fears.

He is accompanied by Nyssa and Tegan, setting the book sometime between the loss of Adric and the events of ‘Mawdryn Undead’. It clearly takes place sometime after Tegan’s return to the Tardis crew after being inadvertently left at Heathrow at the close of ‘Time Flight’. Her quick return wasn’t given a great deal of attention in the actual programme and it is a nice touch that the author addresses her anxieties about the time she was absent, concerning envy at what she has missed and the growth of Nyssa’s relationship with the Doctor during this time. It provides a psychological explanation for her change of attitudes about travelling in the Tardis, the contrast of desiring to be returned to Gatwick and her job and the new enthusiasm she adopts for these travels once she has missed them. It also foreshadows the reasons for her eventual leaving at the end of ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’

Nyssa is also quite well realised by the author who gives her more to do than usual. Ostensibly this is because of her link with Akoshemon and the Dark. She essentially becomes the catalyst that send the Doctor to Akoshemon. Her semi-possession serves well as a plot point as well as creating some of the more eerie scenes. It also raises questions about how the Doctor sometimes uses his companions in a way that places them in danger.

The novel has a relatively small amount of characters but all are quite well defined and realised. There’s a palpable tension that emanates from the entire cast of characters. Stoker, in particular, comes across as a well-rounded character with plenty of development during the course of events. She experiences quite an emotional journey as she loses her crew and those around her, making her quite a sympathetic figure by the books’ close despite her early obstinacy. There are some nice parallels with the Doctor as they both experience moments of self-doubt and fear as their confidence suffers in the face of the threat against them and those they care for.

The story does adhere to the very tried and tested plotline of having a set group of people confined to a certain place as they are systematically killed off. But such a plot is a reliable staple and ‘Fear of the Dark’ does it very well indeed.
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on 24 April 2015
This starts out ok, if a little more like an episode of classic trek than doctor who. In fact it's a bit like the episode Devil in the Dark, with a monster lurking about in the tunnels etc . The characterisation and dialogue for the doctor is pretty good to start with, and you can picture the fifth doctor. Nyssa has little do for most of the book except be ill or asleep. Tegan is written reasonably well. The other characters are corny. There are some shameless and crude attempts to get us to care about them, such as repeatedly talking about the young daughter of one of them and how she needs her daddy to come home. These characters are too cartoon for us to really give two hoots about them.

When Captain Lawrence arrives in response to a distress call, and has an antagonistic relationship with the female leader of the rogue mining team, I groaned then laughed out loud to read that, you guessed it, they had a romantic past together. I will leave you to take a wild guess as to how their apparent loathing of each other turns out. . . . Suffice to say that this was cheese of the corniest nature.

There is to be fair a good degree of interest story wise for the first half or so of the book. This degenerates rather, into a repeating pattern of the doctor insisting that they go towards the danger and then have to run away. This all feels a bit pointless. The end result is that the doctor feels pretty useless and if anything more likely to get people killed. He is never in control and rarely appears to have much to offer, but instead gets dragged along by the events. It's sort of the antithesis of the tenth doctors almost messiah like powers. I accept that the fifth doctor was much more dithering and unsure, but in this story he starts to feel more of a blundering liability than he should. To be fair this is made at least in part inevitable by him being under the mental influence of the enemy, but that to me renders him pretty un-doctor like for much of the time, which is not really what I want in a doctor who book.

When the remaining humans finally decide to blast off of the surface, they take an absolute age doing so. This being despite the monster that can kill them in a second being hot on their heels! They even allow someone to give a long explanation of their back story and current position, including why they think as they do, when there is no reason why he can't do this after they have safely taken off.

The various futile encounters with the blood sucker and the 'Dark' finally come to a climax during one of the many to'ing and fro'ings into the caves etc . The doctor finally has a brief lucid moment of doctorish behaviour and its all over. So it's not terrible and entertaining in parts, but rather let down by corny additional characters, too much pointless advance and retreat, and a doctor who is not himself.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 17 June 2013
Taking life easy for a few days, having a nasty cold, I've read a couple of the 50th anniversary editions of Doctor Who novels. The Fourth Doctor story, Festival of Death, was great and I've reviewed that.

This one is the Fifth Doctor story representative for the 50th anniversary celebrations. Fear of the Dark was first published in 2003, and is set after the tv story Arc of Infinity, when Tegan returns to the Tardis after the adventure in Amsterdam with Omega. Tegan, Nyssa and the Doctor are still feeling the loss of Adric, and Nyssa is haunted by nightmares of Traken. When the Tardis is attacked by some kind of psionic force, they land on what turns out to be the moon of Akoshemon, a planet where centuries of fear and horror have haunted the landscape. There the Tardis crew meet up with a team led by Jyl Stoker; but what are they doing there and what does it mean for the Doctor and his companions?

This is a great story; the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan are captured perfectly. I love the way the author has captured Tegan's quickfire temper, and there is humour laced among the action and mounting horror of the narrative. Beyond that, the story itself is a clever, multi-layered narrative, which starts off seeming like its going to be quite straightforward but along the way turns into a very complex story with many sidelines. That's a good thing; the characters all get a chance to develop into `real' people, and the mounting tension and horror of the story becomes a real tangible thing. The Doctor's fear of his own vulnerabilities makes the story never seem like a sure-fire neatly tied up opportunity, and there is real tension and concern in the story right to the end. Totally, utterly recommende. This is a great Doctor Who, and a great story.
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on 11 February 2016
Not bad.
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on 2 May 2013
Very enjoyable.. different and couldn't put it down! It's going to be one I read again and again. Great for the Doctors 50th anniversary
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on 8 June 2015
splendid
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on 25 April 2015
Excellent read
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on 2 November 2013
Just like an original fifth doc adventure well written and spooky as hell love how the doctor is pushed to the very brink of desperation and fear recommended
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on 15 June 2013
The dark is scary. The end.

That's pretty much the content of this novel, which features the fifth Doctor and his companions Tegan and Nyssa. The companions are recognisably themselves (Tegan particularly), but the Doctor is a fairly blank template. I rarely found this depiction of my favourite iteration of the character to be wholly authentic, although he doesn't do anything wildly aberrant either. For the most part, I simply found him off key. Perhaps it was the emptiness of the plot. A thingy, which is scary, hangs about being scary, and everyone is scared. The problem is that the thingy is only scary by implication. There are some good moments, mostly reminiscent of the movie Event Horizon, but they appear and then vanish again. They fail to build. And the ending itself is anticlimactic in the extreme, and left me wondering what all the fuss was about. This whole story was done with infinitely more flair and texture in the TV adventure The Curse of Fenric, and the hollow core of this book functions best in illustrating how much better that was.
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on 18 December 2014
The moon of Akoshamon..is where a great evil lurks..where it has grown since the planets birth..The Doctor,Nyssa and Tegan are literally blown off thier feet at the start of this briliant story..The Dark kills without mercy..twists minds and makes people fear it..and even The Doctor is frightened and fights for even his sanity..Trevor Bexendale delivers this novel with amazing briliance..All the charecters have their own background story..and are very likeable even the sneeky Cadwell..and he is the twist to the story..I loved the characters Jyl Stoker and Bunny Chaung..The fear they all felt..even The Doctor..it jumped out at you..You wanted them all the survive..The sadest death was Bunny's..all he wanted to do was to be with his family..Nyssa was a great key point in the story as The Dark possesesed her first..The Doctor..as strong as he is..you think even to the end The Dark has him..They all fight for thier existance....and it really is a fight..This is one novel I really do one hundred and ten percent recommend..to any and all Doctor Who fans...
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