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Doctor Who: The Crimson Horror

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‘We must get to the bottom of this dark and queer business, no matter what the cost!' Something ghastly is afoot in Victorian Yorkshire. Something that kills. Bodies are washing up in the canal, their skin a waxy, glowing red… But just what is this crimson horror? Madam Vastra, Jenny and Strax are despatched to investigate the mystery. Strangely reluctant to assist their enq ‘We must get to the bottom of this dark and queer business, no matter what the cost!' Something ghastly is afoot in Victorian Yorkshire. Something that kills. Bodies are washing up in the canal, their skin a waxy, glowing red… But just what is this crimson horror? Madam Vastra, Jenny and Strax are despatched to investigate the mystery. Strangely reluctant to assist their enquiries is Mrs Winifred Gillyflower, matriarch of ‘Sweetville’, a seemingly utopian workers’ community. Why do all roads lead to the team's old friends Clara and the Doctor? Who is Mrs Gillyflower's mysterious silent partner Mr Sweet? And will the motley gang be in time to defeat the mysterious power that threatens all the world with its poison?


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‘We must get to the bottom of this dark and queer business, no matter what the cost!' Something ghastly is afoot in Victorian Yorkshire. Something that kills. Bodies are washing up in the canal, their skin a waxy, glowing red… But just what is this crimson horror? Madam Vastra, Jenny and Strax are despatched to investigate the mystery. Strangely reluctant to assist their enq ‘We must get to the bottom of this dark and queer business, no matter what the cost!' Something ghastly is afoot in Victorian Yorkshire. Something that kills. Bodies are washing up in the canal, their skin a waxy, glowing red… But just what is this crimson horror? Madam Vastra, Jenny and Strax are despatched to investigate the mystery. Strangely reluctant to assist their enquiries is Mrs Winifred Gillyflower, matriarch of ‘Sweetville’, a seemingly utopian workers’ community. Why do all roads lead to the team's old friends Clara and the Doctor? Who is Mrs Gillyflower's mysterious silent partner Mr Sweet? And will the motley gang be in time to defeat the mysterious power that threatens all the world with its poison?

30 review for Doctor Who: The Crimson Horror

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    As a fan of Mark Gatiss’ writing and have fond memories of the Matt Smith era of Doctor Who, I was always going to enjoy this. I am aware that some of Gatiss’ Doctor Who writing can be hit and miss for some people, but this most certainly is not the case for me. The Crimson Horror is one of my favourite episodes and this is a fresh take on it. As it is mostly told from Jenny Flint’s perspective. I always adored the trio of Jenny, Madame Vastra and Strax on the television show, and they are portr As a fan of Mark Gatiss’ writing and have fond memories of the Matt Smith era of Doctor Who, I was always going to enjoy this. I am aware that some of Gatiss’ Doctor Who writing can be hit and miss for some people, but this most certainly is not the case for me. The Crimson Horror is one of my favourite episodes and this is a fresh take on it. As it is mostly told from Jenny Flint’s perspective. I always adored the trio of Jenny, Madame Vastra and Strax on the television show, and they are portrayed so well in this novella. Also Jenny and Vastra’s relationship is so sweet. Gatiss really shines when he writes stories with a Victorian era setting. The chapter written from the Eleventh Doctor’s perspective is really enjoyable because he captures the voice of the character so well. I am very pleased with the new collection of Doctor Who Target novels, as I have always been meaning to read some of the older ones. Fans have always talked about being very fond of them. From this new collection, I am considering reading Dalek next (soon), followed by the novelisation of the Doctor Who Movie.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Robert Collins

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. What muddle, tried to be cleaver by adding more than than the episode over 60 pages that are not in the television episode but don't work. Unless you an expert in Doctor who The in female jokes and reference to River Song. Mark Gatiss Newton Aycliffe boy has done what no other Doctor Who star and writer has done appearances in the show and written episodes. Dame Dina Rig played the horrible old hag in the episode and Mr Sweet is. I love what has done to Stax What muddle, tried to be cleaver by adding more than than the episode over 60 pages that are not in the television episode but don't work. Unless you an expert in Doctor who The in female jokes and reference to River Song. Mark Gatiss Newton Aycliffe boy has done what no other Doctor Who star and writer has done appearances in the show and written episodes. Dame Dina Rig played the horrible old hag in the episode and Mr Sweet is. I love what has done to Stax

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kieran McAndrew

    Bodies are appearing around Sweetville, near Bradford at the end of the nineteenth century and the Pater Noster Team meets the Doctor when he infiltrates the village to uncover its secret. Gatiss uses the epistolary style well, capturing the feel of 'Dracula' crossed with 'Sherlock Holmes' and deepens the episode with some sly digs at 'Britain's Got Talent'. Bodies are appearing around Sweetville, near Bradford at the end of the nineteenth century and the Pater Noster Team meets the Doctor when he infiltrates the village to uncover its secret. Gatiss uses the epistolary style well, capturing the feel of 'Dracula' crossed with 'Sherlock Holmes' and deepens the episode with some sly digs at 'Britain's Got Talent'.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Before reading Gatiss' novelization, I'd only seen The Crimson Horror once or twice, right around the time of its initial airing. And very little of it stuck with me over the years. So, I went into this with no expectations, simply hoping for something enjoyable. And, at first, it seemed promising. The idea of telling a Doctor Who story in an epistolary format is a neat one. It's just a shame that Gatiss doesn't really stick with it. Jenny narrates most of the book, with a few sections from Ada Before reading Gatiss' novelization, I'd only seen The Crimson Horror once or twice, right around the time of its initial airing. And very little of it stuck with me over the years. So, I went into this with no expectations, simply hoping for something enjoyable. And, at first, it seemed promising. The idea of telling a Doctor Who story in an epistolary format is a neat one. It's just a shame that Gatiss doesn't really stick with it. Jenny narrates most of the book, with a few sections from Ada Gillyflower, the Doctor, Strax, and Jonas Thursday. The problem is that all of these segments are mixed together with more traditional prose. The book tries to handwave this away by suggesting Jenny is filling in the gaps all "authory," but it proves very distracting. Those segments never sound like they're written in her voice, so it breaks the illusion of this being a collection of documents and audio recordings explaining the tale of "The Crimson Horror." And that's really a shame as the epistolary stuff works remarkably well, adding a new twist on a familiar story. Strax's stuff is a bit uneven (but often funny), it's nice getting to hear directly from the Doctor, and Gatiss has such a strong grasp on Jenny's voice that you can easily imagine it in your head as you're reading it. Overall, I just wish the book had fully committed to the epistolary style. I think it would've been far more engaging that way. The Crimson Horror is one of those Doctor Who stories that are kind of light on plot and heavy on atmosphere. And that creates a sizable problem for a novelization of the episode. How do you stretch a plot that already felt pretty thin into a 200-page novel? Gatiss's answer is to not stretch it much and add a (mostly unconnected) prequel instead. In fact, The Crimson Horror doesn't start until 40% of the way into the novel. Now, to be fair, the prequel adventure is rather fun, and it ends up being more interesting than the portion of the book that actually adapts its namesake's episode. But it is weird that you have to read nearly half the book to reach the beginning of the story you've set out to read. I don't want to go into any real detail about the prequel story, since it is totally new to the novelization, but I do think it's worth a read. As for The Crimson Horror, itself, I'm not sure there's enough there to please anyone who's not a hardcore fan. While the various points of view do beef up the characters some, the book speeds through its plot so quickly that the actual mystery itself feels like an afterthought. A lot of the emotional beats land much better, particularly those involving Ada, but I can't help feeling like the actual mystery is just as middling here as it is in the episode. Sure, this book was never gonna rock the boat, or anything, but I would've liked to spend more time beefing up the central mystery of The Crimson Horror some. Maybe it could've leaned harder into the Sherlock Holmes aspect of the mystery or something, I don't know. As it is, it's just kind of perfunctory—which is rather disappointing given how fun the prequel story is. Overall, Mark Gatiss's novelization of The Crimson Horror ends up being about as average as the episode, itself, is. The added prequel is reason enough to give the book a read, but it does come at the cost of properly expanding the main story's narrative. The epistolary angle is neat, but it's not executed as consistently as I'd like. And, ultimately, it's still the same story as the TV version, with all the pros and cons that come with that. While it does provide a noticeably different experience when compared to the episode, I'm not sure the novelization is really any better. It's just a different version of the same thing. And, sure, it's not the job of a novelization to radically change the story, but the best ones can often enrich the experience. I don't think The Crimson Horror really does that outside of the added character moments. It's just a fun, extended prequel followed by a pretty average, though creative, retelling of the TV episode. The novelization won't suddenly make you a fan of the episode, but the added character moments and genuinely enjoyable prequel make it worth a read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    The novelisation of Gatiss' own script for an episode featuring Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor and his companions Clara, Vastra, Jenny and Strax. The Victorian detectives of the Paternoster Gang team up with the Doctor to solve two cases, the first of which features a series of grim decapitations and the second of which sees the wicked Mrs Gillyflower plotting to overthrow the world order from within Sweetville, a perfect town with a dark secret. I'm a big fan of the Paternoster Gang, especially St The novelisation of Gatiss' own script for an episode featuring Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor and his companions Clara, Vastra, Jenny and Strax. The Victorian detectives of the Paternoster Gang team up with the Doctor to solve two cases, the first of which features a series of grim decapitations and the second of which sees the wicked Mrs Gillyflower plotting to overthrow the world order from within Sweetville, a perfect town with a dark secret. I'm a big fan of the Paternoster Gang, especially Strax; with their odd camaraderie, their humorous bent and their Victorian aesthetic, they're just thoroughly enjoyable characters to operate alongside the Doctor. I therefore was pleased by Gatiss' decision to tell this story largely from Jenny's perspective (with a few combat reports from Strax too) and in her Cockney housemaid vernacular, giving this book a unique feel in keeping with its setting. Whilst the events of the main story unfold more or less identically to those seen onscreen, almost the entire first half of this book is taken up by a separate (albeit linked) and entirely new adventure for the main players. This means that even those very familiar with the televised version of the story will find a lot here that's brand new, which is a novel and appreciated approach to a novelisation. There's plenty of Gatiss' wry humour on offer here too, not least in his parody Victorian version of Britain's Got Talent. In fact, with the humour, the Gothic sensibilities and the Victorian setting, this book has Gatiss' distinctive style woven throughout it. Personally, I'm a fan of his writing, so that's just fine by me. * More reviews here: https://fsfh-book-review2.webnode.com *

  6. 4 out of 5

    Book collector

    Victorian larks from the pen of mister mark gatiss, Esquire. Based on his own script this is great fun. It's well written and as you'd expect from him an excellent representation of the Victorian era. I like the way this story has been expanded. Instead of increasing the doctor's role within the story of the crimson horror the author instead opts to give us a new section, essentially a short story, of 60 pages that features the doctor, vastra and jenny set before the events of the battle of demo Victorian larks from the pen of mister mark gatiss, Esquire. Based on his own script this is great fun. It's well written and as you'd expect from him an excellent representation of the Victorian era. I like the way this story has been expanded. Instead of increasing the doctor's role within the story of the crimson horror the author instead opts to give us a new section, essentially a short story, of 60 pages that features the doctor, vastra and jenny set before the events of the battle of demon's run. Its very funny and links into the main story. I liked this idea as the crimson horror was a story that focused more on the characters of vastra, jenny and strax and extending the doctor and clara sequences, although it would have been welcome would also have detracted from the focus of the early part of the tale. This story is a favourite of mine and the book does it justice. The characters are captured perfectly and the book is a joy. I just wish the rate of releases for new target books would be increased! We need mark to adapt the unquiet dead next, or victory of the daleks. No wait... cold war. No... empress of mars... or maybe all of them. The crimson horror is great stuff and a welcome addition to the doctor who shelves.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Theaker

    Madame Vastra (Silurian), Jenny Flint (human) and Strax (Sontaran) investigate odd goings-on in Bradford. Not bad, but this was never one of my favourite Mark Gatiss stories. I had hoped he would read the audiobook himself (his reading of Planet of the Daleks was superb), but since much of it is from Jenny's point of view, Catrin Stewart is an even better choice. The sections from Strax's point of view are very amusing, and read by Dan Starkey. The book reminded me of Alan Dean Foster's Star Tre Madame Vastra (Silurian), Jenny Flint (human) and Strax (Sontaran) investigate odd goings-on in Bradford. Not bad, but this was never one of my favourite Mark Gatiss stories. I had hoped he would read the audiobook himself (his reading of Planet of the Daleks was superb), but since much of it is from Jenny's point of view, Catrin Stewart is an even better choice. The sections from Strax's point of view are very amusing, and read by Dan Starkey. The book reminded me of Alan Dean Foster's Star Trek Logs, in how so much of it is new. We're two-thirds in before the Doctor and Clara get involved in the main adventure.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ian Robinson

    A gloriously fun romp, improving on the TV episode and providing a fast-paced read. It’s over 60 pages before anything from the TV episode appears, with a ‘prequel’ story set among London’s theatre district being a great deal of enjoyment although not really having much to do with the main story. The characters are a lot of fun, and I particularly enjoyed the first-person narratives from Strax, Jenny, and others. There are some aspects that are rather cheekily glossed over (the ‘rejuvenation mac A gloriously fun romp, improving on the TV episode and providing a fast-paced read. It’s over 60 pages before anything from the TV episode appears, with a ‘prequel’ story set among London’s theatre district being a great deal of enjoyment although not really having much to do with the main story. The characters are a lot of fun, and I particularly enjoyed the first-person narratives from Strax, Jenny, and others. There are some aspects that are rather cheekily glossed over (the ‘rejuvenation machines’ and Mr Sweet’s origin, for instance) the extended page count could have been useful for but these are minor issues.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chris Griffin

    I confess to not being a fan of the original story. It All felt lightweight, and finding the book fleshed out with a new adventure taking up the first third of the book didn’t add any depth. It also didn’t help that the new story as a knock off Britains Got Talent in Victorian times wasn’t gripping The passages by Strax remind us what a great character he is, and those by Jenny are well written and sound like the actress delivering the lines. She is the star of the book, the Doctor, Clara and Vas I confess to not being a fan of the original story. It All felt lightweight, and finding the book fleshed out with a new adventure taking up the first third of the book didn’t add any depth. It also didn’t help that the new story as a knock off Britains Got Talent in Victorian times wasn’t gripping The passages by Strax remind us what a great character he is, and those by Jenny are well written and sound like the actress delivering the lines. She is the star of the book, the Doctor, Clara and Vastra seem to hardly be in it. Not Mark Gatiss’s best effort 🙁

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kaoru

    I don't know what Gatiss rode here. The constant shifting from one character's viewpoint to another gets irritating quickly, makes the plot hard to follow and makes it seem utterly disjointed. Paired with countless sideshows and a whole pre-story that is roughly 60 pages long and doesn't connect all that much to what comes after, this book is quite a mess, I'm afraid. For some reason though, the editor thought it was all fine and perfectly releasable. What can you do. I don't know what Gatiss rode here. The constant shifting from one character's viewpoint to another gets irritating quickly, makes the plot hard to follow and makes it seem utterly disjointed. Paired with countless sideshows and a whole pre-story that is roughly 60 pages long and doesn't connect all that much to what comes after, this book is quite a mess, I'm afraid. For some reason though, the editor thought it was all fine and perfectly releasable. What can you do.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra Needham

    Fun from start to finish, and you can tell Gatiss enjoyed it too. Definitely give it a go if you want to read someone being very (justifiably imo) rude about Bradford

  12. 5 out of 5

    Duncan Steele

    Turgid. I knew there was a reason I couldnt remember anything about the TV version, this is a painfully slow adaptation.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lira

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jon Arnold

  15. 4 out of 5

    Louisa

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jim

  17. 4 out of 5

    John Cook

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sean Urry

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anna Secret Poet

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alex Beresford

  21. 5 out of 5

    Simon

  22. 5 out of 5

    Chris Clegg

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gary Stringer

  24. 4 out of 5

    Viola

  25. 4 out of 5

    Scott

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Sproston

  27. 5 out of 5

    Paul Doody

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mick Shepherd

  29. 5 out of 5

    Holly

  30. 5 out of 5

    Avril

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