Published by BBC Books, Broadway Books on September 2014
Genres: Adventure, Science Fiction, Time Travel
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Marlowe Hapworth is found dead in his locked study, killed by an unknown assailant. This is a case for the Great Detective, Madame Vastra.
Rick Bellamy, bare-knuckle boxer, has the life drawn out of him by a figure dressed as an undertaker. This angers Strax the Sontaran.
The Carnival of Curiosities, a collection of bizarre and fascinating sideshows and performers. This is where Jenny Flint looks for answers.
How are these things connected? And what does Orestes Milton, rich industrialist, have to do with it all? This is where the Doctor and Clara come in. The Doctor and his friends find themselves thrust into a world where nothing and no one are what they seem. Can they unravel the truth before the most dangerous weapon ever developed is unleashed on London?
The Doctor and Clara travel back to Victorian London to investigate a mysterious energy emission. Around the city, people are being murdered – sucked dry to empty husks. The Great Detective and her associates are on the case. Meanwhile, the “Carnival of Curiosities” has come to town, in which there performs a particularly skilled shadow artist who almost looks like she is magically bringing the paper shadow puppets to life. The Doctor can’t immediately work out how she does it, but he’s determined to find out.
I’ve been reading quite a few Doctor Who novels lately. They’re not always good, being essentially fan-fiction, but I was intrigued to see this particular story featured the Twelfth Doctor. Of course, we’re just about to see the final episode in his first series so we’ve got to know him a bit, but when this book was published, only the first couple of episodes of series 8 had aired so I was curious as to how the new Doctor’s persona would be portrayed. I assumed that Justin Richards must have had a sneak-peak at some scripts, or insider knowledge from Steven Moffatt as to what the Doctor would be like. As it turns out, the Doctor himself is fairly flat in this story. It falls to more familiar characters of Clara, Vastra, Jenny and Strax to make this feel a lot like it could be a lost episode from series 8.
It seems this adventure is set fairly early on in the series 8 timeline: There’s no mention of Danny Pink, or the friction between the Doctor and Clara that is around in the middle episodes. I’m not really a huge fan of Clara in general but she was alright in this story – she didn’t annoy me too much, at any rate!
I love episodes with the Paternoster Gang. I think it’s mostly Strax I love the most – the way he casually mis-understands everything humans say or do, and no-one seems to bat an eyelid at whatever he has to say in return. Thankfully in Silhouette, Strax has stayed away from being just the comic relief and actually has an important part to play in the story. Jenny also plays a large part, although this time there’s no mention at all of her relationship with Madame Vastra.
The story has a good pace to it, especially once the nasty plans are revealed. I’d recommend this one for fans of the Paternoster Gang – the Doctor isn’t quite himself in this one.