Doctor Who
Forever Autumn

Author: Mark Morris
BBC Books
RRP: £6.99, US $11.99, Cdn $14.99
ISBN: 978 1 84607 270 3
Available 06 September 2007

It is almost Halloween in the sleepy New England town of Blackwood Falls. Leaves litter lawns and sidewalks, paper skeletons hang in windows, and carved pumpkins leer from front porches. The Doctor and Martha soon discover that something long dormant has awoken, and this will be no ordinary Halloween. What is the secret of the ancient tree and the book discovered tangled in its roots? What rises from the churchyard at night, sealing the lips of the only witness? Why are the harmless trappings of the season suddenly taking on a creepy new life of their own? As nightmarish creatures prowl the streets, the Doctor and Martha must battle to prevent both the townspeople and themselves from suffering a grisly fate...

Horror writer Mark Morris sticks to what he knows best in Forever Autumn, a novel that takes place during Halloween. The book is intended to be suitable for young readers, so there’s nothing truly nightmare-inducing here, but the author (who has also written two previous Doctor Who paperbacks for BBC Books, the Eighth Doctor novel The Bodysnatchers and the Fifth Doctor adventure Deep Blue) ticks all the right boxes in terms of the genre. From eerie green mist and possessed cats to sinister carnival costumes and a particularly unpleasant thing that happens to the town’s alcoholic former physician, a creepy happening is never very far away.

The baddies are Jack Skellington look-alikes called the Hervoken. Morris defuses comparisons between his creatures’ magical methods and those of the Carrionites in The Shakespeare Code by having the Doctor explain that the two species were once ancient rivals, until the Eternals stepped in and banished them both.

Despite the fact that Martha Jones has now appeared in an entire series of television adventures with the Time Lord, this batch of novels is apparently set fairly early on during their travels together. It certainly takes place before 42, because evidently the Doctor has not yet souped up his companion’s mobile phone to enable it to communicate across time. The book does help to narrow down the placement of the animated adventure The Infinite Quest, though, as Martha thinks back to her experiences on the prison planet Volag-Noc.

In addition to the time travellers, the story focuses on nine of the local townspeople: four teenage boys, the parents of two of them, an old lady with a supernatural reputation, a costumier and the aforementioned drunk. This might not sound like a lot as a cross-section of an entire town, but even this is slightly too many characters for the purposes of the plot. Having introduced them, Morris then seems to struggle to find things to do with some of them for long sections of the novel.

The author makes a good stab at American terminology, such as Math and cotton candy, but shouldn’t the title be Forever Fall? He also mistakes incisors for canines when it comes to vampire teeth, which is a surprising oversight for a horror writer to make.

However, like Halloween itself, Forever Autumn is essentially good, harmless fun.

Richard McGinlay

Buy this item online
We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal! Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£4.23 (Amazon.co.uk)
£5.24 (Waterstones.com)
£5.59 (WHSmith.co.uk)
$9.59 (Amazon.com)

All prices correct at time of going to press.