Doctor Who
The Feast of the Drowned

Author: Stephen Cole
BBC Books
RRP: 6.99
ISBN 0 563 48644 9
Available 13 April 2006

When a naval cruiser sinks in mysterious circumstances, all aboard are lost. Rose is saddened to learn that the brother of her friend, Keisha, was among the dead - but then he appears before them as a ghostly apparition. As the dead crew haunts loved ones all over London, the Doctor, Rose, Mickey and Keisha are drawn into a chilling mystery. What sinister force sank the ship, and why...?

Rather strangely, this book, like its predecessor, Jacqueline Rayner's The Stone Rose, is an Earth-based story featuring the recurring characters of Mickey Smith and Jackie Tyler. These characters don't usually appear in consecutive stories, so there is a risk that the series might be perceived as lacking variety. In both books, the Doctor and Rose have already arrived as the story begins. However, whereas the TARDIS crew spent relatively little time in present-day London during The Stone Rose, here it is the primary setting. It is possible, therefore, that the Doctor and Rose immediately returned to the present day following their trip to ancient Rome, perhaps to check up on Rose's statue and to ensure that history had not been affected by their adventure.

Jackie and - in particular - Mickey play larger roles in this novel than they did in the previous one. In fact, Mickey seems well on his way to becoming a full-blown companion, as he will do later on in the current TV series.

Another major character is Rose's friend, Keisha, who is introduced here as part of the once close-knit gang of Rose, Keisha and Shareen. Rose's best mate Shareen has been mentioned several times on the TV show, but presumably Cole has chosen to invent a new friend (or the BBC insisted) rather than make use of Shareen, in case the character were to appear in a subsequent television episode that might contradict this book.

While clearly set after the episode New Earth (in which both Rose and the Doctor make frequent mention of the Time Lord's new appearance and character), the Tenth Doctor is evidently still getting used to his new body, as he refers again to the weirdness of having new teeth.

Though the page count is the same as normal for these young-adult hardbacks, the type is considerably smaller. This means that, by my estimation, the story lasts 25 per cent longer than usual. It is also a little more adult in tone. For example, one character gives another a two-fingered salute, there is talk of Mickey and Keisha having a one-night stand following Rose's initial disappearance, and Cole's descriptions of the reanimated victims of drowning (with their pearly eyes and water dribbling from every facial orifice) are fairly gruesome.

The Feast of the Drowned makes substantial fodder for Doctor Who readers of all ages. It is, dare I say it, something of a feast.

Richard McGinlay

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