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Book Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who
Martha in the Mirror


Author: Justin Richards
BBC Books
RRP: £6.99, US $11.99, Cdn $14.99
ISBN: 978 1 84607 420 2
Available 10 April 2008

Castle Extremis - whoever holds it can control the provinces on either side that have been at war for centuries. Now the castle is about to play host to the signing of a peace treaty. But as the Doctor and Martha find out, not everyone wants the war to end. Who is the strange little girl who haunts the castle? What is the secret of the book the Doctor finds, its pages made from thin, brittle glass? Who is the hooded figure that watches from the shadows? And what is the secret of the legendary Mortal Mirror? The Doctor and Martha don’t have long to find the answers - an army is on the march, and the castle will soon be under siege once more...

Much as I like the character of Martha Jones, I have to wonder why she, rather than Donna Noble, appears in this latest batch of hardback novels. Donna returned to the Doctor Who television series as a regular companion five days before the release of this book, so wouldn’t her mush on the front cover and her presence in the plot have made for a better marketing opportunity? As it is, these books seem immediately out of date due to the presence of Martha.

Perhaps part of the answer lies in the title of this novel: Martha in the Mirror. Donna in the Mirror doesn’t have the same alliterative appeal, does it? A Noble Reflection, perhaps? But then, even the title as it stands is rather misleading, because actually Martha spends very little time in the peculiar world of the Mortal Mirror.

It’s not as if there’s a shortage of other story elements that the author could have referred to instead. Justin Richards’s plot is an eclectic mix involving a magical mirror, a ghostly little girl, glass people and a glass book, an interplanetary peace conference with crocodile-like alien warriors, deadpan robots and theme-park monks. The author creates mystery from the outset, interspersing the point of view of the haunted little girl with perplexing extracts from the diary of the “man in the mirror”. I deduced some of the plot twists and revelations along the way, but others kept me guessing and gave me something to - ahem - reflect upon afterwards.

Does the whole affair hang together, or does it shatter into fragments? Well, Martha in the Mirror is not entirely successful, but at least it’s more readable than Richards’s The Deviant Strain.


Richard McGinlay

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