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Reviews for Nightshade

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Sort of like Quatermass

By:Virtual Vikki, Red Bluff, CA, USA
Date:Wednesday 7 August 2002
Rating:   10

Back to Earth in 1968 as the Doctor is going into a bit of a depression (which if I recall lasts off and on for the next several books) and perhaps a visit to his favorite planet will cheer him up. In the village of Crook Marsham lives an old actor who once played Nightshade on the telly. His character was sort of a cross between Prof. Quatermass and Doctor Who. Now he is just an old actor. Many murders, what else is new, have been occurring. There is a radio telescope on the moor which is being bombarded by strange signals. Add for good measure some legends of the local civil ware and an ageless power and you have all the elements for a good Who story. Sort of reminiscent of the Image of the Fendall or The Horror of Fang Rock this books makes for good reading. This was voted by fans as one of the best of the first 12 New Adventures novels.

Genuinely creepy

By:Siskoid, Moncton, NB
Date:Wednesday 26 October 2005
Rating:   9

Yes, Nightshade is a simple horror story, with Mark Gatiss once again showing his interest in telling village life stories, but I've written horror has never had such a strong effect on me. The set pieces manage to disturb this jaded old soul at times, and that's high praise.

Indeed, while a simple enough tale, the prose is extremely well written. Seems to lag in some of the early chapters (with a flashback to 1644 almost stopping the action), but it's a warm sort of lag, like a lazy evening in front of a fire. You get to care for a number of characters in the cast, though of course, they're pretty much all cannon fodder in a story like this.

If I have a reservation keeping this from a higher score, it's the fate of the title character, which was a bit abrupt and telegraphed for my taste. Still, there's lots to like here, as both the quiet and the action-packed bits are equally well done.

Overall: I would definitely recommend this as a first book to get into the NA range or even Who fiction as a whole.

Depressing but interesting

By:Mark List, Midland, United States
Date:Sunday 14 November 2010
Rating:   7

This book was a nice change from some of the earlier novels. I thought it was well written and definately well thought out. There wasn't really any "dead" space in the story.

Other than being a little depressing in parts, it was quite an enjoyable read.

It was too bad that Nightshade met the end he did, but as the story was written, it was fitting. It was nice to see the old man find the nerve to do the things that he did.

This is one book that I would read again.

Lacks Rationale

By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Saturday 7 January 2023
Rating:   6

"Nightshade" is a novel drawing on the works of Nigel Kneale and John Wyndham, but one heck of a lot bloodier. The story takes place in a small Yorkshire village where the retired actor who once played Professor Nightshade on TV now lives and where a new space research station has been built on top of the remains of an old castle and quarry with a spooky history. Something is invading people's dreams and recreating their fears. The Doctor and Ace arrive and The Doctor tells Ace over breakfast that he wants to retire. Much of the early action revolves around repeated incentives for The Doctor to get involved and The Doctor's agonizing quandary that if he does get involved, then he cannot retire. Professor Nightshade is not meant to represent Doctor Who as much as it is Professor Quatermass. Gatiss' manner of writing I found a little annoying. Mostly, it is his insistence on going through paragraphs of personal history for nearly every character he introduces, no matter what is going on in the narrative at that time. This awkward manner of characterization breaks the narrative forward motion. Gatiss also pulls a quick dodge so that he gets out of having to explain what the evil creature is. It's a thing that has been around for a while and needs to eat energy. That is all. For me, this non-explanation is unsatisfying.

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