As part of the new History Collection series, the BBC has reprinted one of the old first Doctor PDAs – The Witch Hunters, featuring the original TARDIS crew arriving in Salem, 1692, at the time of the infamous witch trials.
The Salem Witch Trials is, actually, a period of history I’m relatively familiar with – or at least, I’m familiar with The Crucible, having spent probably too much time studying it over the past two years. It was pretty weird, then, to see characters like Abigail Williams and John Proctor and Rebecca Nurse interacting with Susan, Ian, and the Doctor. (Obviously, I know that they were real people, but having treated them as essentially fictionalised versions of themselves for so long, there’s something of a disconnect for me.)
I think the novel works quite well, actually, in terms of the way it’s structured, and how each character is used. The role given to Susan stood out to me; it made a lot of sense to have her play off against the other girls her own age, particularly with the exploration of Susan’s own developing psychic abilities. Rebecca Nurse and the Doctor also had a rather interesting plotline, with a resolution that put me somewhat in mind of Vincent and the Doctor.
(Actually, I tell you what it really reminded me of in places – this story I wrote, also with Ian, Barbara, Susan and the Doctor, in a timey-wimey historical adventure. Obvious similarities – historical with the original TARDIS crew with a changing of time aspect, but also both I and Steve Lyons alluded to a previous event wherein the Doctor learned the hard way about changing time, and gave Susan similar ish plot beats about how she’d feel if Ian/Barbara left. The main difference is that in my story, they succeed in changing time, as opposed to being unable to in The Witchhunters.)
All in all, then, I’d actually quite strongly recommend this book. You might not get the same level of enjoyment out of it as I did if you don’t have the same background understanding of The Crucible, but there’s still a lot to like – it’s a very well written historical with the original TARDIS crew, after all.