The latest Black Archive book is out now and kicks off a summer triptych of Twelfth Doctor stories.
The Black Archive #20: Face the Raven is written by Sarah Groenewegen BEM, and naturally examines the serial that saw Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) leave the TARDIS… until the Series 9 finale. But, to paraphrase a well-known character from Star Wars, it’s a Trap Street, meaning Clara’s destiny always leads back to the Raven.
The Black Archive range is a series of critical essays published monthly by Obverse Books, written by an array of talented folk including Kate Orman (Blue Box), Simon Guerrier (The Pirate Loop), and Jon Arnold, who’s written for the DWC! You may recognise Sarah Groenewegen from her Lethbridge-Stewart novel, The Daughters of Earth. She was awarded a British Empire Medal for her services to law enforcement and LGBT+ diversity in 2016.
Here’s the synopsis for Face the Raven:
‘Let me be brave. Let me be brave …’
In a series where violent death is prevalent but the regular characters generally immune, Face the Raven (2015) is a rarity in featuring the demise of the 12th Doctor’s longstanding companion Clara Oswald. While Doctor Who’s basis as a time-travel series means that the audience will see Clara again, everything after her death here is borrowed time.
The figures reintroduced by Face the Raven all play unexpected parts: Ashildr, a Viking woman made immortal by the Doctor, is a mayor; Rigsy, a graffiti artist befriended by Clara, is a murder suspect; and numerous monsters from the series’ past have become refugees. Scripted by Sarah Dollard, an Australian living in the UK, the story uses the tropes and imagery of Doctor Who to comment on real-world issues of immigration, asylum and the penal system, its narrative leading directly to the Doctor’s own incarceration in the following episode.
This Black Archive draws on the history of London and its presentation in fantasy, on queer and feminist theory, and on the mythic and folkloric symbolism of ravens to examine this haunting story. It is the first of three books dealing with the final episodes of the 2015 season of Doctor Who.
The book is split into four chapters – “The Impossible Girl”, “Repercussions”, “London”, and “Death and the Raven” – as well as a standard introduction, synopsis, bibliography, and author biography. Keep an eye on the DWC for reviews of the entire Black Archive line.
This Black Archive trilogy continues with #21: Heaven Sent by Kara Dennison in July 2018, and #22: Hell Bent by Alyssa Franke in August 2018.
Head over to Obverse Books to grab your copy of The Black Archive #20: Face the Raven now. A paperback copy will set you back just £4.99!