Shroud of Sorrow
by Tommy Donbavand
Shroud of Sorrow is one of the latest of the new series adventures novels, and the first to feature Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor with Jenna-Louise Coleman’s Clara Oswald.
Set on a date that may be familiar to some, November 23rd, 1963 the day after the assassination of American President John F Kennedy, faces of the dead are emerging from the most unusual places. A late father in the mist, a dead grandmother in a coffee stain, a long-lost partner in the raindrops on a window pane. The Shroud has fallen and has begun to feast on the grief of a world in mourning. Can the Doctor and Clara save the day before it’s too late?
Shroud of Sorrow is by new~to~Who writer Tommy Donbavand who blasts on to the scene with this wonderful story. Donbavand’s plotting feels like a wonderful combination between Russell T Davies’ emotionally driven stories, Steven Moffat’s well observed scary/cerebral tales, Douglas Adams’ brilliantly ridiculous works (as an example here - a dimensionally transcendental clown car) with the clever yet non-detracting classic references of Gareth Roberts. He has managed to take all the successes and familiarity of the above writers’ styles whilst maintaining an original edge proving that he really gets Doctor Who.
The story is first class. The eerie Shroud, who feed on negative emotions make an excellent adversary for the Doctor and the setting and date give the whole piece an extra kick. There is a clever style throughout that remind one of the movie Crash (2004) where all strands and characters however estranged neatly tie together by the end. I really don’t want to give away any spoilers but it’s safe to say there are some truly unlikely and unexpected twists and turns and lots of inspired references to previous episodes of Doctor Who throughout.
The real advantage in this format is the length of these novels. Unlike the current series there is no prescribed time frame which really enables the story to move at a slower, more engaging pace and allows more time to develop characters and plot lines. It’s like new Who with a classic series structure. Donbavand has excellently captured the Eleventh Doctor and Clara’s dialogue and mannerisms to the point where one can practically see them. This first-time Who writer has done a bang-up job with his debut, leaving one eager for a follow up. If his work is consistently of this caliber he should certainly be given a chance to write for the TV series. This story itself would make an excellent episode for the TV series with a little pruning or possibly as a two-parter.
Shroud of Sorrow succeeds at nearly every turn and is a tale that truly lives up to the high expectations of the 50th Anniversary year. It’s easily the best of its two fellow releases [details HERE] and yet sadly the only one that, as yet, hasn’t received an audiobook release. It’s a wonderfully compelling read and comes highly recommended for any Who fan both classic or current!
BLOGTOR RATING 9/10
Thanks to Broadway Paperbacks