The Undertaker’s Gift by Trevor Baxendale
Reviewed by DJ Forrest
Published in 2009 by BBC Books
The Hokrala Corp lawyers are angry with Earth and especially Captain Harkness and Torchwood for mishandling the 21st century, so an assassin has been sent to remove Jack. The Hub is busy for this week, a translucent jelly blob that has a lethal electric charge is sitting on a bench in the cells, and a large number of aliens have been coming through the Rift.
A funeral cortege is seen in the dead of night with pallbearers guarding a rotting cadaver that doesn’t want to be buried. Ianto Jones is desperately ill, Gwen finds herself trapped in a crypt, and three students have the worst few nights of their lives.
Just another normal week for Torchwood Three!
I heard a lot of negative comments regarding Jack and Ianto before I began reading the book. I’d heard that both characters were played OOC (Out of Character) and that Jack wouldn’t have treated Ianto in the way he did. So going on this basis and a few other complaints from fans I began reading.
I’m not known for being a fast reader, most of the time I’ll read a few chapters at night and it’ll probably take me a fortnight to read a Torchwood novel. When I started reading however, I couldn’t put it down. I’d taken a couple of hours out to read in my busy day, and 35 pages in and I was on a rollercoaster of a ride that didn’t look to be stopping any time soon, in fact in two hours of reading I was over half way through the novel before I had to take a break. In the space of two days I’d finished the novel and such was my feelings I had to come onto Twitter and comment about it, and then on Facebook and then in an email to Trevor. There are not many books that blow me away by how well they keep pace, how much detail, how much of a thrill. This book never stopped, the ride of a lifetime, it never dipped, it kept pace and when it was over I was breathless, absolutely WOW factor!
Not once in the whole of the book did I see Jack acting out of character with Ianto. Not once did I see Ianto acting any different, although to be honest, Ianto plays much better on paper than he does on the screen, but that’s writers for you. Every character had their voice, every new character you felt you knew them, and the pallbearers I found it hard to shake the feeling I’d seen them before, perhaps I had. (Doctor Who – Trensalore)
The Xilobyte creatures that were attacking Ianto, I absolutely adored, and I could picture Gwen picking them off him and crushing them under a rock. Whoever said this book wasn’t good, needs to read it again. Because I couldn’t fault it, and I’m not being biased because I think Trevor is a great writer – he IS a great writer, but if I felt that the book didn’t portray the characters as we see them on the screen, didn’t live up to how Torchwood is, I’m pretty sure Steve Tribe would have brought him to task long before the book was published.