The Book of Kells is a very important adventure in the latest series of Eighth Doctor audios. This is for two reasons; the first is that it seems to be an â€œevent episodeâ€ for the Doctor – that is to say that part of this seasons story arc starts becoming (ever so slightly) clearer from this episode. The second reason as to why The Book of Kells is important is because itâ€™s really very, very good.
Arriving in Ireland in 1066, strange occurrences are taking place in the Abbey of Kells and the Doctor and his friend are soon involved in the goings on. Set in an isolated and slightly creepy location, the play takes a slight psychological edge and really enjoys messing around with the minds of the characters. Disembodied voices and unexplained disappearances create an uneasy feeling for not only the guest stars but for the Doctor himself, leaving him to feel as if heâ€™s missing something obvious…
Over the last two adventures, the Doctorâ€™s newest travelling companion has been put under a spotlight of sorts whilst trying to replace the wonderful Lucie Miller. Itâ€™s in The Book of Kells that said companion finally starts to really stomp their feet and prove their worth as a TARDIS dweller. The Doctorâ€™s interaction with his newest partner in crime is still on the tense side, with not so much banter but more barking of orders. However, by the end of The Book of Kells, a mutual respect seems to have been reached that can relax the atmosphere for happier times ahead.
The villain of the piece is a fine choice and when the Doctor finally realises who heâ€™s up against you do feel to slap youâ€™re forehead and do your best Fifth Doctor impression as you say â€œOf course… I should have realised!â€ Will we see more of this nefarious character in the future? One certainly hopes so, as not only is there an opportunity for great moral conversations between them and the Doctor but it also may prove essential for the season arc to be concluded.
As the Eighth Doctorâ€™s last standalone season starts to come to a close, you canâ€™t help but feel that weâ€™re headed for a bang, not a as big as the Eleventh Doctorâ€™s, but certainly as satisfying. After Situation Vacant and Nevermore, Barnaby Edwards has put the Eighth Doctor adventures back on track and written a satisfying and interesting adventure. Using a famous historical mystery (the Book of Kells went missing for a number of weeks in real life-stolen from the abbey) and having the Doctor explain it away is something the TV series frequently leans towards doing in its pseudo-historical stories.
And wait until you get to the end, because thereâ€™s one heck of a cliff-hanger that leads you pining for more…
The Book of Kells is available now for purchase on download or CD from www.bigfinish.com!