Wednesday, 10 September 2014

'Doctor Who And The Image Of The Fendhal' - Terrance Dicks (Target)

 If there is anything that looks more dated than old Doctor Who cover art I have yet to see it...  :o)

A sonic time scan draws the TARDIS to the Fetch Priory on Earth. There, the Doctor and Leela discover an impossibly old human skull that is the key to a nightmare from the Time Lords’ past.
A murderous monster stalks the priory grounds; and within, someone is intent on unleashing a malevolent creature that feeds on death itself... 

I think this is likely to be the last 'Doctor Who' book (well, Target novelisation) spoken about here for a very long time. I've done enough comfort reading around Doctor Who anyway and there's also the inescapable fact that the more of these books I talk about, the less I have to say. They all follow the same lines structurally and thematically which doesn't leave you a lot else to talk about. One day, I'm considering copying an old review (just swapping the title for something different) and seeing if anyone notices… ;o)

But in the meantime, 'The Image of the Fendhal'. If 'The Curse of Fenric' was the story that scared me as a teenager then 'The Image of the Fendhal' is very much the book that scared the life out of me as a child. The opening scenes, which cut between an experiment that takes an unexpected turn and the resulting death of a hitch hiker build up tension very nicely to a well placed climactic scene which pushes you headlong into the rest of the plot. 

'The Image of the Fendhal' is another Doctor Who story simply told and very formulaic. You certainly get what you pay for here (in this case, a penny via Amazon New and Used…) Making up for this though is a really dark undertone of horror that props the story up. When even the Doctor is scared of the Fendhal you know that they are an enemy who will take some defeating. And you really feel the rising terror in the characters when they find their legs refusing to move as the Fendhaleen bears down on them… It's moments like this that make the story worth reading and I wouldn't mind tracking down the DVD to see how the story comes across on screen. 'The Image of the Fendhal' is a simple tale but also a dark one that taps into Doctor Who in a way that I don't normally find with the TV show. Are all Fourth Doctor stories like this (I seem to remember reading a few like this as a kid)?

I'm not sure I'll be in a mad hurry to re-read 'The Image of the Fendhal' (nostalgia will only take you so far after all) but it was fun while it lasted and still had the capacity to make the hairs on my arms stand up. Can't ask for a lot more than that really.

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