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The Cabinet of Light

by Daniel O'Mahony

(Telos Publishing, 10, 121 pages, standard limited edition hardback, also available in a deluxe edition, priced 25.)

For forty years "Doctor Who" in its various forms has enthralled and captured the hearts of millions around the world. In print form "Doctor Who" has gone from strength to strength over the years, even gaining an entry in The Guinness Book of Records, an achievement in itself.

Two years ago Telos books launched a new series of novellas giving new and established authors alike a chance to expand on the short story but stop short of a novel. The latest addition to the range by established author Daniel O'Mahony pays homage to "Doctor Who" in all its forms, with a sly look back to the past, and giving us a little look into the future. One of the freedoms of the television series was the flexibility of the format, this is true of the books too, and The Cabinet of Light plays around with the format, introducing us to an unspecified incarnation of The Doctor. The character of The Doctor makes his presence felt throughout the story, despite not appearing in person until the last third of the narrative.

Within the framework of this novella we move into uncharted territories, being introduced to a time sensitive Honoré Lechasseur, who sees into the future. The year is 1949, and in post war London Lechasseur is hired to track down the enigmatic Doctor, the ever present throughout history Doctor, a mystery man, a myth, a fable. On his quest, we are introduced to an array of colourful characters who slip out of this wonderfully rich narrative, as the reader is lead through a London vividly brought to life and cleverly painted onto the canvas by the author. The setting feels Victorian; if Sherlock Holmes made an appearance striding out of the fog, it wouldn't seem out of place. Even the monster, the superbly sinister half robot/half human wearing a gas mask and all over body suit, fits comfortably into the story.

So, what of The Doctor? He slips with ease into the narrative making an appearance in of all places, a toy shop where fantasy and reality come together. In his brief appearance he paves the way for a new series of adventures featuring Time Hunter Honoré Lechasseur, handing over the baton to the tall black American dressed in tweeds. The Doctor fades back into the background, having played his part with the promise of many more stories to tell...

This is easily the best of the Telos Novellas so far, we are treated to a beautifully told story, atmospheric and thought provoking. It is sad to think that there are only a few more Telos "Doctor Who" novellas to come before their licence expires next year. Congratulations to the Telos team for The Cabinet of Light. If the Time Hunter novels match the quality of this novella, there are treats in store...

Review by Russell Cook.

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