The novel “The Feast of the Drowned” by Stephen Cole was published for the first time in 2006.
A British Navy ship sank under mysterious circumstances in the North Sea and all its crew members died. Rose Tyler goes to find her old friend Keisha, whose brother Jay was part of the ship’s crew. The Tenth Doctor accompanies her and becomes curious about that strange event.
After the Doctor goes to get something to eat, Jay appears to Keisha and Rose and asks her sister to reach her before disappearing. Meanwhile, the Doctor finds out that an abnormal number of people are suffering from fainting and when told about the strange appearance decides to ask Mickey to do some research. The next stage of the investigation is on the banks of the river Thames where the wreckage of the sunken ship was carried.
“The Feast of the Drowned” is part of a series of novels connected to the new “Doctor Who” series. They’re targeted to a wide audience by being linear enough to be appreciated even by very young readers but sophisticated enough to interest more mature readers.
The novel “The Feast of the Drowned” is set in the second season of the new TV series but contains important references to previous events. The books often contain mentions of previous events but in this case there’s an influence on the plot following the fact that by mistake the Ninth Doctor had brought Rose home when when on Earth not 12 hours had passed but 12 months.
In the TV series it was explained that Mickey was suspected of Rose’s disappearance but there were only hints at the events of that period. Stephen Cole tells something more and in particular about the involvement of Keisha, a girl Rose was going out with to have fun before meeting the Doctor.
Rose meets Keisha again after finding out that Jay, her friend’s brother, died in the sinking of the ship he was serving on. The strange circumstances around that event and Jay’s subsequent appearance to the two girls convince the Doctor to investigate to understand what’s happening.
The story has a development typical of the Tenth Doctor’s age, with a plot that we could call thin and a great deal of attention to the protagonists and their interpersonal relationships. The story of the Doctor’s investigation is simple and leaves room to tell more about Keisha and Mickey in the period of Rose’s absence.
The tones of that part of the story are a bit soap opera-like but that’s also typical of Tenth Doctor’s era. Honestly I could have done without them but all in all they didn’t bother me too much because it’s the only element that I found negative for my liking. I think that everything else about the protagonists is well done by Stephen.
The novel is set at a time when Rose has been traveling for a while with the Doctor and those experiences started changing her. The meeting with Keisha becomes complicated because her old friend sees a different person and seems even jealous. Keisha hasn’t got over the events of the period of Rose’s absence and that, along with the fact that the two girls have taken very different paths, causes a contrast between them with Mickey in the middle.
Reading “The Feast of the Drowned” I had the impression of seeing and hearing the characters of the TV show. Considering that in addition to the Doctor and Rose in the novel there are important roles for Mickey and Jackie as well, a good reproduction of their characterization was important. Stephen Cole also gives a fair amount of development to Keisha to give the impression that she’s really Rose’s old friend, and to Vida Swann, a scientist who ends up getting involved in the Doctor’s investigation.
Overall, “The Feast of the Drowned” seemed to me an excellent example the Tenth Doctor’s era’s representation, luckily more with its merits than with its flaws. For this reason it’s a novel I can recommend to “Doctor Who” fans in general.