Book Review: Doctor Who – The Witchfinders by Joy Wilkinson

by @edent | # #

Doctor Who book cover.

The TARDIS lands in the Lancashire village of Bilehurst Cragg in the 17th century, and the Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz soon become embroiled in a witch trial run by the local landowner. Fear stalks the land, and the arrival of King James I only serves to intensify the witch hunt.
But the Doctor soon realises there is something more sinister than paranoia and superstition at work. Tendrils of living mud stir in the ground and the dead lurch back to horrifying life as an evil alien presence begins to revive. The Doctor and her friends must save not only the people of Bilehurst Cragg from the wakening forces, but the entire world

I used to devour target novelisation as a kid. All the stories that I’d missed from the 1960s and 70s came alive from those cheap mass-market paperbacks. So I was overjoyed that Target have released this new crop of books – with some thoroughly modern stories.

Row of Doctor Who books.

Doctor Who and The Witchfinders is delightfully epic. It has some lovely callbacks to the classic series. It’s a fun story with a few more twists and turns than the TV version.

There’s a darkness to it. The underlying story isn’t just about alien mud and imprisoned warriors. It’s about the subjugation experienced by those stripped of power. It’s about how moral weakness can lean to terror. It is about The Doctor experiencing a new kind of fear:

The kind of fear she’d sworn wouldn’t be an issue for her, because she was a kick-ass Gallifreyan travelling the galaxies, not a chick getting chatted up at a bar or walking home down a dark alley. But it turned out time had played its tricks with her and it only took a moment for all her powers to vanish, so that suddenly she was seen as ‘just a woman’ in the presence of powerful forces with evil intent.

The Doctor has always fought against injustice. But now, perhaps for the first time, the character gets a personal experience of prejudice. What a wonderful evolution for the series.

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