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Book Review

Book Cover

Olive Hawthorne and the Daemons of Devil's End


Authors: Various
Editor: Sam Stone
Publisher: Telos
ISBN: 978 1 84583 9697
Publication Date: 09 November 2017

Olive Hawthorne and The Daemons of Devils End (2017. 197 pages) is a small anthology of stories revolving around a Doctor Who character that appeared in John Pertwee’s The Daemons (1971). The part was played by Damaris Hayman. Target did do a novelisation of the story in 1974; however this is a collection of new material centred on Miss Hawthorne.

The design of the book is more than a little reminiscent of the design on the target book, right down to having an almost identical Telos logo where the target logo would have sat. I feel this is more than coincidence, but it also means that it will sit well with your collection of novelisations. The book itself is a novelisation based on the Reeltime Pictures drama White Witch of Devils End.

The first story by Sam Stone, The Inheritance (21 pages) works functionally well as a sort of ‘how I got to be a witch’ as well as setting up an unresolved mystery surrounding her sister's disappearance. As a short story it works just fine, except for one glaring mistake. On page 24 it is plainly stated that our heroines age is 18, presumably the old hag appears to give her the witches grimoire as she is now officially a woman. However, at the close of the short story two years have passed and her age is stated at 17 and not the 20 she should have been. I am not sure if this is a case of sloppy writing or sloppy editing but as Stone both wrote the story and edited the collection I’m afraid she will have to stand in the naughty corner for the rest of the day.

Half Light (38 pages) by Suzanna Barrieri sees Miss Hawthorn as an older woman. During an eclipse of the sun, the past and present bleed into one another, a sign that something has been left unresolved. The story then moves back in time when Hawthorne was still a young and attractive woman. A new stranger arrives in town, Victor. Miss Hawthorne is instantly attracted to him. The short story plays out like a nineteenth century romantic horror fiction. As far as the audience goes, Victor’s otherworldly aspects are there for all to see. Dressed in black, with pale skin, an aversion to mirrors and daylight, I’m guessing this is not another emo.

The Cat who Walked through Worlds (31 pages) by Debbie Bennett is a lovely little poignant short story and probably the one that was my favourite. It tells the tale of how Miss Hawthorne gained a cat, a tale of fey magic and the kidnapping of two young girls, a kidnapping which sees Miss Hawthorne placed in danger, having finally to relinquish something precious. The narrative style is able to capture both the potential beauty and danger in the use of magic.

The Poppet (25 pages) by Jan Edwards is a thrilling tale of voodoo possession and beauty salons. Olive become suspicious when people start to behave strangely. The village is about to host an important marriage, a marriage which would concentrate power over the village into the bride’s hands.

Daemos Returns (18 pages) by David J Howe takes it starting point and the shows original story positing that just because you think you have won does not mean that all evil is vanquished.

Hawthorne’s Blood (27 pages) is by Raven Dane and points to an important reason that the stories are ordered as they are. Collected together it shows the character start as a young witch with this story happening near the end of her life. When a long-lost relative arrives in the village Olive thinks that she has found her successor as the protector of Devils End only to discover that appearances can be deceiving.

The stories are bookended with a Prologue and Epilogue by Sam Stone, which show both the beginning and end of Olive's life. A forward is provided by Damaris Hayman, the actress who played Olive in Doctor Who and Keith Barnfather provides the Afterword with a little explanation of how the project came about.

The book is an offshoot of Koch Media’s three DVD set The Daemons of Devils End. The book is finished off with a dossier provided by Andrew-Mark Thompson, a graphics designer who has mocked up various pieces of media ephemera and a short section covering the authors.

Ok, so the project is an off shoot of a semi professional film project, so I was not expecting much. I did like that the stories gave Olive's story across the sweep of her life, starting with the disappearance of her sister when they were both children.

I was impressed with the skill of the writers and although the project is based on a minor character in the Doctor Who universe, the book more than successfully stands as its own creation. In the end, there is no actual need to know Doctor Who, even though a couple of stories obliquely reference it, as Olive becomes a strong enough character to support the stories.


Charles Packer

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