Doctor Who: The Crawling Terror by Mike Tucker
Gabby Nichols is putting her son to bed when she hears her daughter cry out. ‘Mummy there’s a daddy longlegs in my room!’ Then the screaming starts… Kevin Alperton is on his way to school when he is attacked by a mosquito. A big one. Then things get dangerous.
But it isn’t the dead man cocooned inside a huge mass of web that worries the Doctor. It isn’t the swarming, mutated insects that make him nervous.
With the village cut off from the outside world, and the insects becoming more and more dangerous, the Doctor knows that unless he can decode the strange symbols engraved on an ancient stone circle, and unravel a mystery dating back to the Second World War, no one is safe.
Many thanks to Ebury Publishing and Netgalley for providing a review copy.
Proper creepy monsters have arrived…or creepy-crawly monsters to be more accurate. The Crawling Terror brings a full quota of giant insects, beetles and a very well utilised Giant Spider.
There are touches of horror brilliance in Mike Tuckers latest Doctor Who offering. Villagers are falling victim to attacks from over-sized mosquito, a tunnel is filled with a giant web with a local farmer cocooned within (very dead) and there is a giant beetle stomping around the fields nearby. The opening third of the book builds a very tense atmosphere with many scenes played out during a dark and foggy night to crank the tension up several notches.
Now add in a local research laboratory where the locals believe that mad-scientists are conducting experiments on animals, a stone circle in the village (missing a stone) which rests on one of the Earth’s ley lines and cross link it to a Nazi experiment from WW2 which went badly wrong.
Finally we have the Doctor (Capaldi) and Clara arriving in a TARDIS that re-directed herself to drop them right in the middle of the action. Perfect Doctor Who manna for a fan.
Tucker does a great job of keeping the tension running high while balancing the development of a story which, as can be seen, has quite a few narrative threads to keep track of. The scene with the Doctor taking refuge from the Spider within an old farmhouse made the story for me.
Having now read all three 12th Doctor books from Ebury Press I can take a small step back and compare all 3 volumes as a collection. I understand that the books were written before the broadcast of Peter Capaldi’s first episode and I can see that the authors may have been slightly disadvantaged by this. I have read Mike Tucker’s previous Who novels (and many of Justin Richards books too) they can capture the essence of a Doctor so that you know you are reading about Tom Baker or Peter Davison…they nail the traits of each regeneration.
However, writing for a Doctor you have not seen is much harder and I felt that Silhouette (Richards) and The Crawling Terror were ‘Doctor Who’ stories rather than ‘Peter Capaldi Doctor Who’ stories. Not to say that I did not enjoy them…they benefited from having a companion to ensure it was clear WHICH Doctor was in action.
A special mention, therefore, goes to The Blood Cell by James Goss as I felt that the argumentative Doctor in that story could only have been Season 8’s Peter Capaldi.
Having read my way through the launch of the Virgin Publishing’s range of New Adventures, the Past Doctor Adventures and then the whole of the BBC books range that came after the 1996 TV Movie I have seen the high and the low points of Doctor Who written adventures. The trio of The Crawling Terror, Silhouette and The Blood Cell are a strong start to what I hope will be a long run of books. When can I get the next ones?