It’s a setting that just feels right for the Seventh Doctor. You have a monastery that is a place for contemplation while the Seventh Doctor is getting ready to die and he comes to the monastery to get ready for it. The titular room with no doors is something that has been cropping up in Chris’s dreams and it represents where the Doctor’s past lives go. The Seventh Doctor is actually scared because he forced the Sixth Doctor into his own room with no doors and is now scared that not only will it hurt and there is a chance that the Eighth Doctor will renounce the Seventh. Yes we see the Seventh Doctor afraid. This is something that the Virgin New Adventures haven’t done before, and it really gives you the feeling of dread as you know the end is nigh. The Doctor is as depressed as he was in Nightshade as he just wants to be done. And then he dies. Yes the Doctor dies and is brought back by Death herself, who yeah she’s back. Orman portrays McCoy’s incarnation at his finest as he is just getting away and of course gets dragged into the story. The story however is the novel’s weakest point. It deals with samurai fighting, but that really isn’t very interesting which seems to be a complaint often with Kate Orman. The biggest offender of this was her novel, SLEEPY, but this novel still suffers from having a plot that is too busy touting its characters before telling a good story.
Orman however uses Chris brilliantly in this plot as he is the main character. This is really his story as he finally cracks. Liz’s death in Eternity Weeps not only brought back painful memories of So Vile a Sin, but also is a dagger creating more grief for him to deal with. One of his first actions in the novel is to write the Doctor a letter opening as such:
“‘Dear Doctor,’ wrote Chris, ‘I give up.’”
This is how we open the story which is just chilling as you see where Chris is at the start and the book is letting him grieve. There’s this powerful section of the novel where Chris just realizes that he isn’t a hero. He realizes that people really aren’t heroes. He does go down into becoming a coward, but that changes by the end when he comes to terms with who he is as a person. The Virgin New Adventure hints that this novel is going to start a new relationship, at least in the original commissioning for The Room with No Doors, but as that is cut short it actually feels much like this ending was intentional. Chris feels like he is ready to leave and actually go off saving the universe, which is a good fate to have for the Adjudicator who has lost so much. I know he appears when Bernice Summerfield takes over the New Adventures which will be very interesting to see just where everything goes.
Two other characters that show just how good the novels by Kate Orman are and indeed this novel is. First is Penelope Gate, who is a human being and the first time traveler from Earth. She is a very strong-willed character who has actually trapped herself in Japan due to the use of an alien power source that she shouldn’t really have. Orman does a lot of hinting when it comes to Penelope Gate and she’s a character who will actually be explored much later down the line, but to be honest in her first appearance she works very much as a one-off side character with her own little story arc, completed at the end of the novel. The other character that Orman really relishes writing in the novel is Joel Mintz from her previous standalone novel, Return of the Living Dad. Bringing Joel back into this novel is very interesting as we get to see a glimpse at how successful Isaac Summerfield has been on Earth. He has been successful and Joel was actually very jealous of Summerfield and the Doctor. The idiot has decided that he is going to go through time and space and changing history. He does have sparring with the Doctor, but the impression is that well, he doesn’t actually know what he’s doing which is really a great way of doing the character.
To summarize, The Room with No Doors is a novel about the ending of the travels of the Seventh Doctor and Chris Cwej. It is a novel explaining regeneration that is imminent and there isn’t anything that can be done. Orman does an excellent job making everything very interesting filling the novel with even supporting characters who are interesting, even if this review neglected to mention them, but fails on the plot which is rather flimsy. It is still a great book, much better than SLEEPY, overall and is deserving of a rather high rating of 80/100.