The novel “Forever Autumn” by Mark Morris was published for the first time in 2007.
In Blackwood Falls, a small town in New England, the residents are preparing for Halloween. Rick Pirelli has arrived home, accompanied by two of his friends who go to the same high school, when they notice a strange green light coming from an old tree in the garden. When they dig at the tree’s roots they find a strange book written in an unknown language but one of the boys can read it before Rick takes it out of his hands.
The Tenth Doctor and Martha Jones arrive at Blackwood Falls in search of the source of an energy spike. While a strange green fog seems to have invaded the town, the two travelers reach the Pirelli family residence, where the Doctor thinks that the energy was emitted from the object that was buried. Who does that strange book belong to? What’s its connection with the elderly neighbor who has the reputation of being prescient?
“Forever Autumn” 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.
“Forever Autumn” brings together elements of various horror works and puts them into a “Doctor Who” story to create a novel connected to Halloween. There’s a very old tree, a mysterious book, a strange fog, an elderly woman with the reputation of being a kind of witch and among the protagonists there are kids with parents who are clueless about what’s happening in an American town.
Only monsters threatening the local inhabitants are missing to complete the horror story: in “Forever Autumn” they’re called Hervoken and in the course of the novel a connection is shown to other creatures already appeared in “Doctor Who”. In the end the difference compared to the classic Halloween horror story is that the Tardis brings the Doctor, for the occasion accompanied by Martha Jones, to the town at the center of the threat.
In this atmosphere, the Doctor must understand the origin of the threat that, as in any decent horror story, is connected to the origins of the town where something has awakened. Honestly all the elements are clichés because the books in this series are too short for the author to be able to develop them all as they deserve.
Perhaps Mark Morris tried to put too many ingredients into his novel and then no longer had room to develop them. For example, Etta Helligan, the elderly woman considered a witch, is present only in some moments while having a certain importance in the plot. The author chose to focus his efforts on the kids, who are the only characters who have some development.
From these “Doctor Who” novels you can’t expect a great originality and there’s fun when the Doctor and his companions are well integrated into the story and have a behavior consistent with that in the TV show. That’s the case of “Forever Autumn”, where we can see in particular the Tenth Doctor’s typical actions.
In stories of this kind, in theory science fiction but basically horror, part of the fun can derive from the fact that they’re scary. From this point of view, my problem is that in the course of my life I’ve watched so many horror movies and read so many stories of this genre that a novel like “Forever Autumn” no longer has any effect on me. Probably readers more sensitive to this kind of stories appreciated it more than me.
For me, the fun of reading this novel came from the characters’ actions in their reactions to the events and in particular from the Doctor and Martha Jones, who has already traveled a lot with the Doctor in this story so she’s beyond the phase where the character was crippled with the unrequired love story.
Overall I appreciated “Forever Autumn” but it’s not a kind of story that really excites me. I think especially fans of Halloween-related stories can like it.