Friday, May 24, 2013
Review: Summer Falls by Amelia Williams
By: Amelia Williams
Publisher: BBC Digital
Summer Falls is a short Doctor Who novella purportedly written by none other than Amelia (Pond) Williams (also known as new-to-me Who author James Goss). The book appears in the season seven episode "The Bells of St. John," wherein the Doctor finally reconnects with Clara, the "impossible girl." One of Clara's charges is reading Summer Falls, a book whose eleventh chapter Clara promises will bring tears when it is read. This short slice of Who-related fiction is actually one of the cleverer tie-ins that I've encountered as it serves as a touchstone between the Doctor's newest companion and his much-loved previous ones, Amy and Rory, the latter two lost in the past at the conclusion of "The Angels Take Manhattan."
I absolutely LOVE the concept of Amy becoming an author, and this story fits nicely into the constructs of her "new" timeframe -- mid-twentieth century America. Having grown up reading the likes of the original Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and Bobbsey Twin mysteries, Summer Falls fits comfortably within the realm of fiction of that ilk. Featuring intrepid, adventurous, mystery-solving children, Amy Pond's novel is deceptively grounded in the real world. Young Kate is far to logical to believe in magic of any sort, yet sprinkled throughout the novella are on a former companion of the Doctor's could appreciate -- hints that the ordinary only masks thrilling and terrifying wonders.
I loved the character of Kate, perhaps a thinly-disguised version of the child Amy might have been after waiting that first night for the man in the box to return to her, all focus and determination masking her disappointment when he fails to appear. The entire tale has the feel of a fairy tale, something akin to "The Snow Queen, hinting at the continuing season seven menace of "The Great Intelligence" (and perhaps quoting from Goss's previous full-length Who novel, Dead of Winter). And Eleven-as-the-Curator is pitch-perfect and may just bring forth a tear or two by the time one reaches the sacrifice detailed in chapter eleven.
One could perhaps argue that this novella is the equivalent of an adventure with the Doctor from the ever-resourceful Amy's point-of-view. A lovely concept, marred only by uneven pacing and the restrictions of the novella format, Summer Falls is easily one of the best fictional tie-ins to the current Who-universe. There is a lot of potential in this concept and format, so much so that I can only hope the BBC explores opportunities of this type in the future and in greater, more substantive depth.
About the book:
"When summer falls, the Lord of Winter will arise..."
In the seaside village of Watchcombe, young Kate is determined to make the most of her last week of summer holiday. But when she discovers a mysterious painting entitled 'The Lord of Winter' in a charity shop, it leads her on an adventure she never could have planned. Kate soon realises the old seacape, painted long ago by an eccentric local artist, is actually a puzzle. And with the help of some bizarre new acquaintances - including a museum curator's magical cat, a miserable neighbour, and a lonely boy - she plans on solving it.