Doctor Who: The Way Through the Woods by Una McCormack
My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes
Series: Doctor Who: New Series Adventures
Date Published: April 28th, 2011
Publisher: BBC Books
Pages: 241 pages
Synopsis: ‘As long as people have lived here, they’ve gone out of their way to avoid the woods…’
Two teenage girls disappear into an ancient wood, a foreboding and malevolent presence both now and in the past. The modern motorway bends to avoid it, as did the old Roman road. In 1917 the Doctor and Amy are desperate to find out what’s happened to Rory, who’s vanished too.
But something is waiting for them in the woods. Something that’s been there for thousands of years. Something that is now waking up.
This is a spoiler-free review.
I have been a Doctor Who fan for a long time now, but I have only discovered this series of novels that connect to the show within the last year or two. Suffice it to say, finding them made me quite excited, particularly because it was during a hiatus between seasons. A few of these stories come out along with each new season and star the current Doctor and companion at that time. Now that I have read through quite a few of these novels, I will say that they definitely tend to be quite hit or miss, most likely due to the multiplicity of authors writing them. However, I am very pleased to say that this one fell into the “hit” category.
Though the Tenth Doctor is my favorite from the television series itself, the Eleventh Doctor novels tend to be my favorites, and this one was no exception. The Way Through the Woods was an incredibly fun read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I sped right through it; it is definitely one of my favorite Doctor Who books I have read so far. This is one of the few instances where, as a reader, you truly want a novel to be reminiscent of another work. Since it is based off an already established collection of characters and stories, you do not want it straying too far from what you know and love. I felt that the plot itself was very characteristic of Doctor Who with just enough of the author’s personal touch to make it very satisfying.
I am always a bit wary when the authors of these stories split up the Doctor and his companion(s); this is something that is extremely easy to execute poorly. Not having a good balance between each character’s storyline and the contribution they make to the overall plot can completely ruin a novel. For the most part, I felt that McCormack did a fairly decent job of balancing each character’s time in the limelight, though I do wish that the Doctor himself had played a slightly bigger role.
I liked the intrigue of the plot; it kept me guessing and wanting to know more. There was a very mysterious and sometimes eerie tone and atmosphere in the story that I found to be quite good. The fact that this took place in multiple time periods while retaining a closely connected set of characters was another interesting aspect of this story and added to the overall mystery. I also really enjoyed McCormack’s writing style and the imagery that she produced. I had a very clear picture of all the locations visited by the Doctor, Amy, and Rory, particularly the woods and the location that Amy ends up in near the end.
The author did an excellent job of capturing the Eleventh Doctor, Amy, and Rory individually as well as the interplay between the threesome. McCormack also created a great supporting cast of characters to complement them, and her portrayals of their interactions with the main three were done very well. Of course, one of the most important parts of any Doctor Who story is the alien or aliens causing havoc, and in this novel, I personally thought that the alien was fantastic.
This book was very well crafted, with solid writing and a concept that was very imaginative and creative. Apart from a few instances of awkward dialogue and interaction and an ending that didn’t particularly blow me away, it had a very strong plot. I would have absolutely loved to see this as an actual episode of the show.
I must say, I do tend to rate and review the books in this series on a much different scale than I would with other books, primarily because I do not expect quite as much from them. While these novels are not the greatest works of literature, they are extraordinarily fun to read, and I would highly recommend giving them a try if you are a Doctor Who fan.