Roots: The Fly (Stephen's transformation). Victorian period dramas (the setting and characters). There is a reference to the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, which the Doctor thought would get off the ground. There are references to Worzel Gummidge and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Goofs: The picture of the Quack on the cover doesn't match any of his descriptions in the novel.
Dialogue Disasters: "If you disappoint me I promise you pain beyond imagining."
Dialogue Triumphs: "I get the impression that this whole place is a bit like a broken clock."
"Time never runs along one corridor."
"Good can't exist outside of Evil. It became a symbol only of folly. Something would have turned up to destroy it. Universal change cannot be stopped, not even by Time Lords."
Continuity: Galah is a Time Lady, who attended the Academy at the same time as the Doctor. The Doctor barely knew Galah, but she remained a great admirer of him throughout his travels. She was always the pacifist in their arguments, which were about life and death and good and evil, which like the Doctor she believed in as concepts. She is a sculptor and loved Gallifrey. She always kept the same appearance whenever she regenerated. Her regenerative ability malfunctioned, meaning that she had no regenerations left. She telepathically linked herself to her TARDIS at the point of her last regeneration, channeling the energy of her regeneration into her ship, and using the Architectural Configuration Programme to create an enclosed universe based on Wychborn House, England, in 1873, and uses the organic component present in every TARDIS, the Protyon Core, to create living beings within that universe. The Protyon Units that make up the Core form a Matrix [possibly linked to the Matrix on Gallifrey?]; the individual Units are single-cell binary activators that form the "soul" of a TARDIS. A Protyon bit has very limited powers of deliberation, based on the information it receives, allowing it to decide which of two options it will take. The Protyon Core is thus an intelligent, thinking component of a TARDIS. Galah bases Charlotte, one of her living creations, upon herself. Under normal circumstances, a TARDIS cannot create living beings. Galah's TARDIS appears as an obsidian block from the outside. When Galah's TARDIS dies, the Doctor persuades her to alter Charlotte's physiology and join with her in a symbiotic relationship, so that something of both of them will live on; Charlotte remains in Victorian England and marries Richard Aickland.
The Doctor carries wax earplugs in his pocket, as well as a leather bag containing six surgical blades and three balls. He tells Bernice that he has always believed evil to be a force, and gained a reputation for this on Gallifrey amongst his contemporaries, who found such black and white notions of morality archaic. His palms are torn open by the spines on one of the insects. He plays the spoons again (Time and the Rani). The Story of the Rock is an old Gallifreyan fairy-tale that warns against interference; the Doctor dreams about Jo, Sarah, and the Story of the Rock. He claims that dreaming is a very rare occurrence for him. He cooks scrambled eggs for Benny and the others.
Ace's armour disintegrates in the grounds of the House, leaving in her dressed only in black t-shirt and shorts. Unarmed, she out fights Archie and Thorold Lewis in five seconds flat, leaving them both battered and bleeding. Archie kills her, breaking her neck with an iron bar, but Arthur heals her. Rix later breaks her fingers before tying her hands. She later breaks Archie's neck.
Bernice unsuccessfully attempts to explore the whole of the TARDIS interior, only to find that the rooms move around within it. She prefers light German wine on warm summer days. She doesn't suffer from hay fever. She dresses here in jeans and a jacket. She hates the idea of servants, including waiters. She drinks tea with the Quack, which reminds her of the tea that the Doctor brews in the TARDIS. She has read some of the novels of Richard Aickland, who becomes a writer of ghost stories during the early twentieth century, including Cold Eyes and The Wine Press.
Links: Ace mentions the Timewyrm (Timewyrm: Genesys, Timewyrm: Exodus, Timewyrm: Apocalypse, Timewyrm: Revelation). There are references to Heaven (Love and War), Jared Khan (Birthright), and the Land of Fiction (Conundrum). Ace thinks of Cybermen (Silver Nemesis) and Daleks.
Location: Wychborn, Devon, the nineteenth century, 1868AD and 1873AD; Galah's TARDIS, on an asteroid in the asteroid belt, 1872AD; and London, 1872AD.
Future History: Richard Aickland's novels become popular again during the neo-Gothic revival of the early twenty-first century.
Unrecorded Adventures: Since leaving Chicago (Blood Harvest), the TARDIS has made three trips of "rare tranquility" including one to the Moscow City Carnival in 2219AD.
The Doctor has met naturalist Gilbert White.
The Bottom Line: 'A strange England indeed.' A promising first novel from Messingham, although by this point artificial environments were already becoming something of a New Adventures cliché. Rix makes a memorably unpleasant villain, and despite occasional ill-advised forays into moustache-twirling megalomania, has fairly convincing motivations. The Protyon Core is pure technobabble, but represents an imaginative use of TARDISes.