The TARDIS lands the Doctor and Martha in the Lake District
in 1909, where a small village has been terrorised by a giant,
scaly monster. The search is on for the elusive "Beast of
Westmorland", and explorers, naturalists and hunters from
across the country are descending on the fells. But there
is a more sinister presence at work in the Lakes than a mere
monster on the rampage, and the Doctor is soon embroiled in
the plans of an old and terrifying enemy. As the hunters become
the hunted, a desperate battle of wits begins - with the future
of the entire world at stake...
monsters have reappeared in new series novels before now.
For instance, the Slitheen returned in The
Monsters Inside, while the Daleks and the Cybermen
have both made comebacks in the Quick Reads books.
However, this is the first time that an enemy from the old
show that has not appeared in the new one has been depicted
in a new series novel.
Zygons and their pet Skarasens, which made their debut on
television in 1975 in Terror of the Zygons, have previously
been portrayed in print in the Eighth Doctor novel The
Bodysnatchers - though the author makes no overt references
to that book, only to the events of the television serial.
Cole concurs with Bodysnatchers author Mark Morris
that young Zygons have pale, maggoty flesh, though he assigns
genders to the creatures, whereas Morris claimed they were
The author succeeds in treading the fine line between bringing
unfamiliar readers up to speed with who and what the monsters
are, without boring those of us in the know with endless pages
of exposition. In terms of recapturing the appeal of Terror
of the Zygons, he ticks all the right boxes. Deceptively
idyllic rural location? Check. Scary lake monster? Check.
Aliens impersonating human beings? Check. However, this is
no mere rehash. Cole plays with and adds interesting twists
to familiar ideas, and ties in themes of hunting and contamination
of livestock (the Zygons lose a Skarasen to a condition not
unlike mad cow disease).
My only real criticism is of the rather poor montage cover,
with its black-and-white Edwardian hunters superimposed on
the colour background, out of scale with the TARDIS. On a
more minor note, the Zygons' organic technology doesn't seem
as radical as it once did, now that we have got used to the
organic design of the current TARDIS interior.
In all other respects, though, this is a thoroughly enjoyable
book, with plenty of exciting chapter endings worthy of a