#13 “Shining Darkness” by Mark Michalowski


  1. City of Heavenly Fire – Cassandra Clare
  2. Every Word – Ellie Marney
  3. Skinjob – Bruce McCabe
    i.     Bloodlines – Richelle Mead
    ii.   The Golden Lily – Richelle Mead
    iii. The Indigo Spell – Richelle Mead
    iv. The Fiery Heart – Richelle Mead
  4. Silver Shadows – Richelle Mead
  5. Looking For Alibrandi – Melina Marchetta
  6. Goose – Dawn O’Porter
  7. Run – Gregg Olsen
  8. Love Letters to the Dead – Ava Dellaira
  9. Stoner – John Williams
  10. The Wrong Girl – Zoë Foster
  11. A Fatal Tide – Steve Sailah
  12. Murder in Mississippi – John Safran
  13. Elianne – Judy Nunn
  14. Being Jade – Kate Belle
  15. Martha in the Mirror – Justin Richards
  16. Shining Darkness – Mark Michalowski
  17. The Hound of the Baskervilles – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  18. Divergent – Veronica Roth
  19. Insurgent – Veronica Roth
  20. Allegiant – Veronica Roth
  21. The Messenger – Markus Zusak
  22. Fragile Things – Neil Gaiman
  23. The Mammoth Book of Angels and Demons
  24. Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell
  25. NOS4R2 – Joe Hill
  26. The Gospel of Loki – Joanne M. Harris
  27. Hades – Candice Fox
  28. Last Night at Chateau Marmont – Lauren Weisberger
  29. Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
  30. Are You Seeing Me? – Darren Groth
  31. Masquerade – Kylie Fornasier

I saw Deep Breath this morning, as every Whovian worth their salt must have by this point. I must say that I got a little too excited when Twelve started talking about how he’d seen his face before. I was kind of hoping for an all-out explanation about Pompeii and Frobisher right there and then, but Moffatt is far too cunning for that. Instead, he just dropped a few hints.

(It took me a shamefully long time to piece together where the Doctor had seen organ-


harvesting-droids before. “The Girl in the Fireplace” was one of my favourite Ten episodes! )

So now we have a whole new season to contend with, plus a strange woman who calls the Doctor her “boyfriend” and skips around looking very much like an evil Mary Poppins. Can’t wait to see who she’ll turn out to be. And whether Clara will keep her snark. I was so excited to see her sharp tongue back. Where has that wit been for the past few episodes? Last I’d seen it was the Christmas special with the Snowmen. Now Clara’s back to her snarky self and I might be able to stop hating her quite so much.

Anyway, as one Doctor Who window opens, another closes. Shining Darkness was the last of the Doctor Who books I own. Now I have to either re-read or go out and buy that Doctor Who/Shakespeare crossover I’ve seen hanging around. I think we all know which option I’m going to choose, yeah?

I can never stress quite strongly enough just how hard it is to review these Doctor Who stories. Instead of being introduced to new characters, we are being presented with representations of characters we already know and love to pieces. These authors take such a risk, writing these books. If they don’t get the characters just right they’ll have swarms and swarms of angry Whovians on their hands. Luckily for Michalowski, he nailed it. He even managed to capture the Ten’s righteous fury. Something I haven’t really seen done in these Ten stories. I was thoroughly impressed.
Plus, Michalowski also added just enough episode allusions to keep us happy. It was very skilfully done. This story falls just after the Doctor Donna’s visit to the Oodsphere and their visit to Pompeii. So Donna and the Doctor tend to mainly talk about those episodes, and some of the preceding escapades, when they talk about the past. Limiting the episodes to which the characters could refer was a brilliant move. It lent a sense of reality to the story  because Ten and Donna weren’t dropping references to every single adventure they’d been on. I tip my fez to you, Mr. Michalowski.

This being said, I felt my feminist anger rise when, in the first few chapters, Donna kept saying that the Doctor would save her and the Doctor would fix it and all manner of “just wait til the big, strong, magical man gets here and rescues me” statements. Donna was never a victim. Never a damsel-in-distress. She was always able to stand on her own two feet. I have a feeling this was Michalowski’s way of tapping into Donna’s deep-seated insecurity that she was a nobody, but he went about it all wrong. Instead, Donna came across as a woman who simply waited to be rescued when we all know that Donna Noble is not the kind to do that. She’d be accomplishing things as she waited for the Doctor to finally show up in the TARDIS. She’d probably even have the whole thing solved by the time he got there. So Donna’s initial unwillingness to do her own thing just rubbed me the wrong way.

The plot was just complex enough to keep up with the show and even managed to surprise me a little with one of the reveals at the end. I like it when books surprise me. However, there wasn’t anything to really make the plot stand out from any other DW story, televised or typed. What I did like was the theme of the plot: prejudice. In Shining Darkness there seems to be a bit of a racial Cold War happening between the mechanicals (robots) and organics (humans). Humans think they’re superior to the mechanicals because they were born, not made. Mechanicals believe themselves to be on par with humanity because they too can feel and talk and think for themselves. You can think whatever you want to about robots and whether they are like humans or not, but the metaphor here speaks to anyone who deviates even a little from what society deems “normal” and the prejudice they endure because of their differences.

I adored these two together. Talk about a BrOTP!

Michalowski had Donna explore her own prejudices against robots and she actually changes her mind. When confronted with evidence that her preconceived notions about “mechanicals” are wrong, Donna accepts the new information and changes her views, opting to include robots into her definition of human. Not only is this so in keeping with Donna’s compassionate nature, but it also is a beautiful way of showing the reader how we should deal with our own prejudices. We all have them, no matter how open-minded we claim to be. And Donna shows us how to go about dealing with those prejudices we have, buried so deep that we forget they’re there. I absolutely loved that.

I’ll leave you with a quote before wrapping this up:

Donna smiled and shook her head.
“Meeting all these robots – all these machines, all these aliens…” She paused. “What is ‘normal’ anyway?”
The Doctor pointed to a little group, a few hundred yards away: two machines, looking a bit like upright sunbeds, were walking along. On their shoulders were two kids – two Squidgie* kids – laughing and squealing as the sunbeds leaned this way and that, pretending they were about to drop them.
That’s normal,” he said. “Just people, being people.”

*: Squidgie is slang for human, or “organic”

★★★ 1/2


About Bec Graham

Bec Graham, 24, was born on the wrong continent. Everything from her burns-like-paper skin tone to her inability to cope with the slightest hint of a hot day suggests she should have been born under the gloomy skies and mild sun of the UK. She hopes writing will get her to her rightful home one day. Failing that, she scans the skies for a spinning blue police box, hoping to catch a lift back to the motherland.
This entry was posted in Extorting Bibliophilia, My Fangirl Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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