This adventure by Tommy Donbavand features the 11th Doctor and Clara. This is the second time in 2 years I've read this book. Almost two years to the date. On my first reading, I really liked this book. I liked it just as much the second time around.
I thought Donbavand got Matt Smith's characterization of the 11th Doctor spot on. I hadn't seen that much of Clara so I couldn't really comment on his characterization of her at the time. Having seen more of her since, I think he got it right. This book had a big impact on me the first time. The impact was a bit less this time as I was expecting the series of events that led to the impact. I was looking forward to it. I still think it was a great use of memory and sorrow and grief of the Doctor.
It's such a big adventure to take place in so small an area. It's big and the Doctor tends to go all over the place in his general behavior, which I felt was in character. Donbavand created sympathetic characters and gave enough insight into them so the reader can connect without becoming too emotionally involved. The story does tend to go a little over the top on the trip to Semtis and the inclusion of the clown characters. I think it falls in line with Moffat's "fairy tale" premise so being completely bonkers is somewhat normal.
That this book takes place November 23, 1963, the day after Kennedy's assassination, on the very day Doctor Who premiered is only one of the many in-references in this book. It's full of them, most of them at the moment used the Once More With Feeling device to defeat the Shroud. This, however, isn't the first time that date's been used within Doctor Who continuity. According to the Doctor Who Reference Guide, Remembrance of the Daleks also takes place 11/23/1963, in what was the 25th anniversary season of the show, 1988.
I still highly recommend this book.
This is my review of this book from May 2013 as posted on Kasterborous.com:
When I walked into Barnes and Noble in Covington, Louisiana, 25 miles from Slidell, as there isn’t a bookstore in Slidell, having visited this store many times over the years, the last thing I expected to see was a table in the middle aisle half full of Doctor Who merchandise. My inner child Doctor Who fan squeed with delight. My outer jaded adult Doctor Who fan rolled his eyes.
I said the table was half full as it shared its 3 x 3 surface with other merchandise. I don’t remember what now but amidst the Doctor Who goodies were 3 books: Plague of the Cybermen, by Justin Richards, Dalek Generation, by Nicholas Briggs and this book. Shroud of Sorrow stood out from the other 2 for a few reasons that led to my choosing it. I hadn’t heard of the author where as I had the others and have read a few of Justin Richards. I like his work. The other two books each feature well-known arch nemeses where this book has something new. Neither of the other books features a companion but rather have the Doctor traveling alone. This book has Clara. And there was the big red-letter date November 23, 1963 on the back cover.
This Saturday, among other things, is the day after President Kennedy was assassinated. Our whole country and some parts of the world were still in shock and mourning and grief. The majority of the story takes place on this day. And it is grief upon which the foundation of this book is built.
I can say I’ve never been happier to give a new author a chance. I said I’ve never heard of him and I’m guilty of not having researched him. What Donbavand has written is a fantastic story involving great characters and great character moments. He has truly captured the personality of the 11th Doctor and from what I can tell of her from what we’ve seen so far, Clara.
The pace is just right and I found myself truly eager know what was on the next page. He gives enough insight into the secondary characters without going overboard and I like these characters. The trip to Semtis was somewhat surreal but was very much in the vein of the fairy tale concept that Steven Moffat seems to want to convey on screen.
What the Doctor does to defeat the Shroud, the setup the author uses, is a fan’s delight. And it is a truly breath-taking, tear-worthy moment. And if that isn’t, if what Donbavand does at the end of the sequence doesn’t stir you, then you are truly made of stone. I shed some tears.
This is one of the few books I’ve read that almost wanted to start immediately reading again. I highly recommend.
It might should be said that it’s possible my opinion of this book is somewhat biased by something personal. It was after I got home and was reading that I realized this is the first brand new Doctor Who book I’ve bought since hurricane Katrina. I’ve bought new out of print books from Amazon and, thanks to eBay, I have the entire Target library again. But this is the first brand new, off the bookstore shelf Doctor Who book I’ve bought since Katrina and there was just something nostalgic about it.