By Will Barber – Taylor
“Do Time Lords get Alzheimer’s disease?” asked Ace.“Oh, we get worse things than that, Ace. The dementias that plague us are much darker.”
The Doctor receives a message from an old friend. The TARDIS arrives in Scotland, 1982. Soon The Doctor and Ace discover the residents of the local Alzheimer’s hospital, Graystairs are beginning to change. Whilst a strange figure stalks The Doctor and Ace, Miss Chambers is mentioned but no one remembers meeting her and Mr Sooal, the owner of Graystairs, has a secret agenda. The Doctor and Ace soon discover that everything is not exactly as it seems… The twists and turns of the plot cleverly echo the use of time in the book. The writer’s use of time swapping between different time zones and atmospheric use of various Scottish locations is essentially cinematic. Therefore it could be suggested that it is more suited to the TV series than a novel. If the TV series had still been running when this book was first published it would have made an excellent Mcoy story.The character of The Doctor is adequately dealt with in this book. Mcoy’s Doctor is considered the most manipulative Doctor and that aspect of his character is well depicted. He manipulates Ace; two old ladies from Graystairs; Sooal; in fact, he manipulates lots of the main characters for his own ends. Unfortunately, The Doctor disappears for quite a few chapters. It is almost as though the writer just can’t think what to do with him. This is disappointing and sloppy considering this book is a Doctor Who book and not a spin off novel. The Doctor should always be at the heart of the action. The character of Ace is a finer characterisation than that of The Doctor. Ace has agency, in other words, she can hold her own. This is demonstrated particularly well when she beats Megan with the pan. Another good scene is when Ace escapes Sooal using a diving suit.Fundamentally, Ace sees a lot more action than The Doctor in this book.The character of Sooal and Megan are excellent. Sooal is the ultimate desperate maniac trying to cure his condition and conquer the Earth at the same time. The description of Sooal is excellent, especially the idea that even aliens cry at classical music. Megan’s character is also brilliantly written. The idea of a trained killer having to be a care worker is half comical, half psychotically interesting. The problem with Megan is that she is under used and killed off too early in the book. This was a character demanding to be developed. Unfortunately, the reader is disappointed.All in all, Relative Dementias is a good book. Some chapters, particularly the chapters after The Doctor attaches himself to Sooal’s machine, are a trifle dull. The triumphs of the book are the characterisation of Ace, Sooal and Megan and the almost cinematic description of Scotland. Now all we need to figure out is what or who is that green eyed monster… Will we ever know?
This review previously appeared on TheCultDen site. Why not check them out at:
- The Dementia Diagnosis (thedementiadiary.wordpress.com)
- Alzheimer’s disease spreads through linked nerve cells, brain imaging studies suggest (eurekalert.org)
- Dementia: Five priorities for research (bbc.co.uk)
- Relatives of dementia sufferers need to ‘push harder’ (itv.com)