Another in the Doctor Who Time Trips series, this one features the Third Doctor and his companion Jo Grant. Jon Pertwee's tenure as the Doctor was a little before my time and whilst I've seen some of his performances I'm not familiar enough with them to say whether the Trudi Canavan accurately captured his portrayal of the character or his relationship with Jo. Therefore this was the first of the series I've read without any preconceptions and it was the plot more than the characterisation that would hook me.
So did it succeed? The answer is a hesitant yes. Set in Australia (the Third Doctor was of course exiled on Earth by the Time Lords for some time), we are first introduced to a local farmer who despite his dog's obvious fear tries to rescue some stranded sheep. Something is terribly wrong though and slowly but with no hope of escape he is turned to salt. Meanwhile the Doctor and Jo are intending to have a beach holiday but instead the Tardis lands them in the outback. Whilst blokarting they come across macabre salt statues of a man and some sheep. The Doctor quickly realises something is not right and after meeting local hobby farmer, Sunny learns about the "bad salt" responsible for turning people into statues before they're destroyed by the elements.
What follows is the Doctor's investigation into what is causing this phenomenon. I enjoyed the idea of the already harsh environment turning against its inhabitants and felt the emotion and stress of living in constant fear of the immediate surroundings suddenly becoming mortally dangerous was well handled. However, as is sometimes the case with short stories I just found the explanation and conclusion was dealt with too swiftly and easily meaning the narrative lost its sense of menace. I understand the constraints of these novella formats but still can't help wishing the denouement was a bit more complex. In the end I felt it was an enjoyable story that didn't quite live up to it's early potential.
Thanks to the publishers for my free copy through NetGalley in return for my honest review.
Salt of the Earth is published in the UK by Ebury Publishing