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< Cat's Cradle: Witch Mark
Love and War >

Nightshade

Rating Votes
10
50%
7
9
21%
3
8
14%
2
7
7%
1
6
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5
7%
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Average Rating
8.9
Votes
14
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Latest Community Reviews

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User Rating:
10
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Reviewed By: DoctorheyReview Date: 1/4/19 9:03 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Nightshade was the first VNA I read as I couldn't find the Timewyrm or Cats Cradle series at an affordable price. This book is amazing with everything it does.

Mark Gatiss is best known for his writing of later Doctor Who stories which all have mixed receptions, but his first story, Nightshade, is by far the best. Gatiss writes all characters excellently so that you are genuinely emotionally invested in all of their stories. Though the pace is quite light when started, it really picks up by the halfway part.

The story also doesn't just reflect a purpose for itself, but ties into both Ace's and the Doctors stories, much like the stories of Season 26. It more so focuses on the Doctors struggles than Aces, but she isn't neglected as a lot of her emotions here mimics those in Love and War.

Overall this is a really excellent book and if you know Aces character, is one of the best Doctor Who books out there.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
Plot Rating:
10
Acting Rating:
NR
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Reviewed By: BrainofMorbius23Review Date: 12/1/17 11:46 am
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Mark Gatiss’s best doctor who by a long shot. It’s a lovely dark parody to the show itself and highly atmospheric and classy read!

Gatiss great strength is characters and history settings and he takes both in stride here.

A joyous read !
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
8
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NR
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Replay Rating:
NR
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Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: newt5996Review Date: 5/16/16 7:03 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

At the time of writing this it has only been about a week and a half since Mark Gatiss’ last Doctor Who effort, Sleep No More so it is interesting to read Gatiss’ first outing in Doctor Who, Nightshade. Nightshade when you look at its plot summary is heavily influenced by The Daemons with a cut off village being attacked by an immortal evil. However here there is no Stephen Thorne in devil makeup here as the evil here is the godlike Sentience which brings hallucinations of the lost and deceased to their loved ones. In doing this it feeds off their energies sustaining its immortality. It has been approaching this village since the English Civil War and manifests itself in 1968.





What the novel does best is building atmosphere. When the novel opens there isn’t much threat except for some minor human conflict to introduce us to these different characters. The characters are extremely colorful with the most prominent being the retired actor Edmund Trevithick, who is an obvious homage to William Hartnell’s First Doctor and Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass. He is most famous for playing the enigmatic Professor Nightshade in an old 1950s BBC serial. He plays the center of the narrative as the horrific forms that the Sentience take are real versions of the monsters that Nightshade faced. It’s a really good idea with some interesting parallels to Carnival of Monsters along with The Daemons and The Awakening. There is also a team of scientists and your average domestics living in this small village as the horrors begin. And the horrors are truly horrific with a giant praying mantis from outer space, a human made out of tar, a loved one who was eaten by sharks and gas mask zombie soldiers. Gatiss relies on typical horror movie tropes to build the atmosphere which really works here. The story gets increasingly dark as the pages keep turning with the horrors increasing and the bodies start piling up.





The body count in the story is the highest of the first eight novels with nearly all the likable characters dying or getting psychologically damaged in some way. The way Gatiss describes the dead bodies is extremely gruesome as we can almost hear their dying screams as the Sentience kills them. The Doctor and Ace also have some great character building over the course of this story. The Doctor decides that it is time to go into retirement being prompted by finding Susan’s old Coal Hill School uniform hidden in the tertiary console room. He almost becomes like the First Doctor in the early days of the series. Even though he doesn’t feature as much in the story, as he’s working in a monastery through the first half of the story, but you can see that even though he doesn’t want to help he can’t keep himself from getting involved. The story also feels for the Doctor what Ghost Light does for Ace as he has to face his fear and inner demons. Mainly a possible impending departure of Ace, which I will go into a bit later, and the memory of Susan. The Doctor is obviously guilty about Susan leaving him and Gatiss really knows how to bring the emotions to the surface of the more reserved Seventh Doctor. Ace also gets some development as she pretty much takes over from the Doctor through large portions of the story. She also has another Ghost Light moment as she faces an apparition of the mother whom she despises. She also gets a love interest in Robin who is a great character who is well rounded and has great chemistry with Ace. The end sees the Doctor rip their relationship apart as Ace was ready to depart. That is my main problem with the story as Gatiss doesn’t really handle that dramatic weight very well and leaves it for the next novel to pick up as well as introduce a new companion.





My only other problem with the story is that Chapter 4 is really out of place and could have been saved for Chapter 11 and be shortened a lot. With that said I am very interested to hear the audio adaptation of this story which is released in April 2016 as much of the novel goes darker and uses some more adult language that I don’t see Big Finish copying over to their adaptation.