Bestselling romance novelist Jenny T. Colgan (aka J.T. Colgan) published her first Doctor Who last year, and now Dark Horizons is out in paperback. (Well, in the U.K.; it’ll be out on August 13 in the U.S. and Canada. Kindle and hardcover editions are available in all three regions.)
If you wish the new Doctor Who were more like the old Doctor Who, this is an adventure for you. Though Colgan captures Matt Smith’s Doctor beautifully, the story isn’t much about him. It’s more about Freydis, a Norse princess, and Henrik, a farmboy turned Viking, who wash up on 12th-century Scottish shores after a shipwreck caused by an alien presence. The Doctor — who is traveling alone here — has plenty to do, however, figuring out who the aliens are, what they want, and how to keep them from hurting his beloved planet Earth.
On the scale of how “alien” the new series tends to be, this is closer to the historical episodes of the old series (particularly those from the Tom Baker era) than anything we’ve seen on television of late: this is definitely science fiction, but characters of the period have to cope with the eye-opening, mind-expanding concepts the Doctor introduces them to. Freydis and Henrik are, basically, the Doctor’s companions for this one adventure, and their reactions to the TARDIS (which I won’t spoil) are smart, plausible, and not like any I can recall seeing before.
If you’re trying to encourage a young Doctor Who fan to read more, this could be a good choice. There’s nothing too scary, and while there is some romance possibly blooming between Freydis and Henrik, it’s very gentle. The reading level is somewhere between that of a young-adult novel and a grownup book, and with the exciting story (as well as the Doctor’s presence), that could be the little push a reluctant reader needs to expand his or her bookish horizons.
(If you stumble across a cool Doctor Who thing, feel free to email me with a link.)