Click here to return to the main site.
Audio Book Review
There’s a house across the waters at Ely, Cambridgeshire, where an old woman tells a strange story... A story about a kind of night constable called Sara Kingdom, and her friends, the Doctor and Steven. About a journey they made to a young couple’s home, and the nightmarish things that were found there. About the follies of youth and selfishness, and the terrible things that even the most well-meaning of us can inflict upon each other... Hear the old woman’s story, and then decide her fate...
Is Sara Kingdom a proper companion? She’s often listed as one, even though she appeared in only one television story. However, as author Simon Guerrier observes in his sleeve notes, that story was the mammoth Daleks’ Master Plan, which involved multiple journeys in the TARDIS. When John Peel (the Who author John Peel, that is, not the late lamented disc jockey who is also, rather confusingly, associated with home truths!) novelised the serial, he split it into two books, with Sara travelling with the Doctor and Steven for several months in between, allowing the possibility of further adventures. Eddie Robson’s short story “The Little Drummer Boy” (in Short Trips: Companions) takes place in such a gap, as does this audio book.
Well, that’s that sorted out then: Sara Kingdom is a proper companion, so she can have a Companion Chronicle devoted to her. However, how can she act as its narrator, when she died at the end of The Daleks’ Master Plan? Guerrier solves that problem in an imaginative way, which I won’t disclose here but which involves a substantial frame story in which the narrator is interviewed by a law-enforcement officer (played by Niall MacGregor) in Ely.
The main narrative is an unnerving ghost story / mystery, the effectiveness of which is augmented by the spooky atmospheric sound design of Richard Fox and Lauren Yason and by Jean Marsh’s riveting reading. The vocal qualities of the ageing Marsh are well suited to delivering the First Doctor’s dialogue.
The truth is that this audio book is an excellent addition to the range.