If you don’t know Tom Baker was the actor to portray the fourth incarnation of the character and is to date the longest-serving person in the role. He was to many – myself included – the embodiment of the character. And even those who don’t know the show can probably recognize the overly long scarf, floppy hat, and toothy grin of his version. And to put it plainly, Tom Baker didn’t just play the Doctor – he was the Doctor.
And that shows in his writing. Told in the first person Baker has the voice of the Fourth Doctor perfectly. The fun and playful nature of the Doctor’s personality shine through while still conveying the intelligence and calculating mind that seems to be several steps ahead of everyone else. But Baker is also able to show vulnerability in the Doctor, he may be calculating and smart, but he doesn’t know everything and can make mistakes – mistakes that can endanger not only himself but those around him as well.
And not only does Baker get the voice of the Doctor down, but he also perfectly captures the personalities and mannerisms of his companions – Sarah Jane and Harry Sulivan. All this in and of itself would be enough for a fun and enjoyable romp regardless even if the story was a mediocre one. But the story is far from mediocre.
The plot itself is a horror story of a small, isolated village where the inhabitants are being turned into zombie-like scarecrows by some malevolent force – a force that even the Doctor does not know how to stop. It is genuinely creepy and does provide a few scares before going completely off the rails crazy toward the end. In a good way, I should add. This is a story that could fit nicely into the Hinchcliff era of the television program, melding gothic horror with sci-fi elements, combining creepy scares with tongue-in-cheek comedy.
I was truly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Probably one of the best Doctor Who novels I’ve ever read. No, not probably. This is the best Doctor Who novel I ever read, full stop. Bravo, Mr. Baker, bravo.