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Book Review

Book Cover

The Twilight Streets (Harback)


Author: Gary Russell
BBC Books
RRP: £6.99, US $11.99, Cdn $14.99
ISBN: 978 1 846 07439 4
Available 06 March 2008

Although it doesn’t look like it, there is something odd about Tretarri a little backwater of Cardiff. Outwardly it looks exactly like what it is, a couple of streets of artisans cottages built at the end of the nineteenth century by a philanthropic employer. So why does no one want to live there? Why are there reports of ghosts? And why does Jack Harkness become so nauseated when he approaches and discovers that he cannot enter? When the council decide to redevelop the area a big party is planned and Torchwood loves a party, especially one thrown by an old acquaintance of theirs Bilis Manager...

Torchwood: The Twilight Streets is another in the BBC’s series of original novels. Written by Gary Russell the book sees the welcome return of Bilis Manager, Torchwood’s enigmatic adversary and the servant of the rift demon Abaddon - who Jack killed to stop him destroying the world.

The book is about consequences, as Bilis reminds Jack one man's god is another man's demon and often in the rush of battle our own convictions overrule the truth. The truth is that Jack and his team really didn’t think about Abaddon’s place in the bigger picture and as a consequence have unleashed a chain of events which will ultimately see Torchwood using the rift to take over the world and moulding it in their own image.

Russell has constructed his book well with the possible future interspersed, as dream/vision sequences, throughout the contemporary action. This is a nice little device which allows him to slowly reveal the truth about the future. Initially the reader is on the side of the self righteous Torchwood when they confront Bilis, but as the truth about his mission is revealed to Jack it is, at the same, time revealed to the reader.

Russell has a nice, easy, uncomplicated prose style, which is perfectly suited to a genre novel. He has a good ear for dialogue, which allows him to bring his characters to life - though character development is limited for the main players. This is not a fault of Russell’s, but the nature of the beast. With the show still in production it is difficult to change the characters and it’s a big no no to kill any of them off. Russell, however, gets a sneaky one in with his possible future sequences where he has a little more room to flex his writing muscles.

Where he is able to show development is with Bilis, who at best was sketchily draw in the show, and Idris Hopper, a character which I presume is original, who gets involved with Torchwood and eventually plays a major role. I did like finding out more about Bilis, though once again Russell has allowed us only a glimpse of what he truly is, thereby maintaining the mystery.

The BBC have been very lucky in their range of original books and audios, so far they have all been of good quality and The Twilight Streets continues this trend.


Charles Packer

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