It is no secret that several stories of the later years of the original series of Doctor Who suffered from edits made for reasons of running time rather then plot necessity. Ghost Light was one of the best examples of this and it does indeed remain a Doctor Who story that raises a lot of questions. Some of those questions through have been answered and have been for some time. The Target novelization of the story, published in 1990 and novelized by Marc Platt (the same writer who wrote the television story), shows that in some cases television stories work better on the printed page.

What shines through the most is the plot and the details of it lost in the television version due to the aforementioned editing done to it. A novel (or rather novelization) be definition gives the author a chance to let the reader get inside the heads of character's and also to allow for more depth in terms of the plot. Ghost Light's novelization does exactly that. Platt doesn't do any huge in depth backgrounds about character's but he gives them depth by adding little pieces here and there. This means that things that perhaps weren't quite clear in television version (such as who Light really is, what's he doing and why he sets out to do what he attempts to do towards the end) are all brought into greater focus. There's also the neat addition of a couple of new scenes in the first chapter that help set up the story and a major plot revelation that comes much later in the story. The result is a story that is much more coherent.

What also shines through is the characterization. Ghost Light has the distinction of being one of the best acted of the original series stories (or at least in my humble opinion anyway) so that fact alone might be surprising. But what the novelization reveals is that not only was much of that on the page all ready but also something else. From Josiah Samuel Smith to the Reverend Ernest Matthews to Nimrod, Control and the mysterious Light itself this novelized version of Ghost Light gives Platt a chance to shine. This is large part thanks to his descriptions for the characters, their mannerisms and the occasional change of point of view to them at just the right moment for dramatic effect. Perhaps though the character's who come through the most are the Doctor and especially Ace. This is very much an Ace story and from the new material in chapter one right through to the very end that fact is in abundance. The result is that, despite the complexity of the plot, this remains very much a character driven story.

Yet despite all that, it moves at a good pace Those additional bits here and there have some interesting consequences. The big one is that almost half the page count is taken up with just getting through what was the first part of the television story. This is because of that Platt, like in the television version, builds up the atmosphere of Gabriel Chase and then introduces a bewildering array of character's within it. Yet once Ace goes underground as it were the story really starts moving and building up the tension for the dramatic reveal of Light before the Doctor deals with the madness that seems to consume everyone around him. In that way Platt uses the cliffhanger-centered nature of his scripts to his advantage here with the novelization being filled with perhaps more mystery and tension then its television counterpart.

Novelizations offer the opportunity to expand, if not improve upon, the original script that it is based on. From his expansion of elements of the story to rich characterizations and its pacing, Marc Platt's novelization of Ghost Light does all of that. In fact, it does more then that. It shows that, despite being a story originally written for another medium, Ghost Light is better served as a novel.