It is almost Halloween in the sleepy New England town of Blackwood
Falls. Leaves litter lawns and sidewalks, paper skeletons
hang in windows, and carved pumpkins leer from front porches.
The Doctor and Martha soon discover that something long dormant
has awoken, and this will be no ordinary Halloween. What is
the secret of the ancient tree and the book discovered tangled
in its roots? What rises from the churchyard at night, sealing
the lips of the only witness? Why are the harmless trappings
of the season suddenly taking on a creepy new life of their
own? As nightmarish creatures prowl the streets, the Doctor
and Martha must battle to prevent both the townspeople and
themselves from suffering a grisly fate...
writer Mark Morris sticks to what he knows best in Forever
Autumn, a novel that takes place during Halloween. The
book is intended to be suitable for young readers, so theres
nothing truly nightmare-inducing here, but the author (who
has also written two previous Doctor Who paperbacks
for BBC Books, the Eighth Doctor novel The Bodysnatchers
and the Fifth Doctor adventure Deep Blue) ticks all
the right boxes in terms of the genre. From eerie green mist
and possessed cats to sinister carnival costumes and a particularly
unpleasant thing that happens to the towns alcoholic
former physician, a creepy happening is never very far away.
The baddies are Jack Skellington look-alikes called the Hervoken.
Morris defuses comparisons between his creatures magical
methods and those of the Carrionites in The
Shakespeare Code by having the Doctor explain
that the two species were once ancient rivals, until the Eternals
stepped in and banished them both.
Despite the fact that Martha Jones has now appeared in an
entire series of television adventures with the Time Lord,
this batch of novels is apparently set fairly early on during
their travels together. It certainly takes place before 42,
because evidently the Doctor has not yet souped up his companions
mobile phone to enable it to communicate across time. The
book does help to narrow down the placement of the animated
adventure The Infinite Quest, though, as Martha thinks
back to her experiences on the prison planet Volag-Noc.
In addition to the time travellers, the story focuses on nine
of the local townspeople: four teenage boys, the parents of
two of them, an old lady with a supernatural reputation, a
costumier and the aforementioned drunk. This might not sound
like a lot as a cross-section of an entire town, but even
this is slightly too many characters for the purposes of the
plot. Having introduced them, Morris then seems to struggle
to find things to do with some of them for long sections of
The author makes a good stab at American terminology, such
as Math and cotton candy, but shouldnt the title be
Forever Fall? He also mistakes incisors for canines
when it comes to vampire teeth, which is a surprising oversight
for a horror writer to make.
However, like Halloween itself, Forever Autumn is essentially
good, harmless fun.