Heritage has proved to be a relatively popular book, certainly the most popular thing I have ever written. On Good Reads, it has a score of just over 3.5 stars out of five, and on LibraryThing it is just nudging under 4 out of 5. Just under 500 people have “liked” the book’s Facebook profile, although on Amazon it has a decidedly average 3 out of 5 stars. No-one who enjoyed the book has reviewed it on Amazon.
The book was first and foremost a love letter to the Virgin Doctor Who New Adventures, not so much by referencing them but by adopting their tone, concerns and approach to character. For some people, this was part of what they didn’t like about the book - Anthony Brown said in Starburst that it was “very much in the style of the more self-important books of the 1990s”, and David Darlington’s summation of it as “little more than acceptable fan fiction with ideas above its station” echoed (possibly intentionally) criticism that had been made of the New Adventures on more than one occasion. Others saw this as more of a selling point, with Doctor Oho seeing the book as the bridge between the “clown” Seventh Doctor of Season 24 and the master manipulator of the Virgin New Adventures, or Graham popping up in the middle of the Nitcentral Guide to Hertage to say “It’s what the old NA writers used to do except this is actually a talented author doing it for reasons of the story”.
The reviews also split over the pacing. For some, the lack of traditional action adventure incident made it dull - for example, Michael Battaglia on Good Reads who said “Chalk this one up to “a good effort”. Or “a bunch of events searching for a plot” because it seems like the author was so determined to cram in as many descriptions and emotions as he could that he forgot to have things actually happen in a narrative sort of fashion”. Others saw this as its strength - Finn Clarke described it as “a deliberately small-scale novel, guaranteed to disappoint anyone looking for space opera and bug-eyed monsters. The secret isn’t what you expect, or what we’d normally see in Doctor Who” and Matt Michael said in his Doctor Who Magazine review “The seemingly languid beginning is deceptive: this is a tight book that uses its gentle introduction to slowly develop the central mystery and some rounded and sympathetic characters”.
Even people who didn’t much rate the book did find some enjoyment in Bernard, the intelligent Dolphin who wanted desperately to be human. “The idea that if Dolphins are actually nasty gits, lager louts in metaphorical Millwall shirts who simply look cute is the best thing about Heritage”, said Anthony Brown, and Planet SciFi said “There are one or two enjoyable moments, and one or two of the characters - notably talking dolphin Bernard”. Those that like the book were willing to go further - “Bernard the bastard killer dolphin is an absolute gem of a character” said EG Wolverson, and Robert Smith? called Bernard “everybody’s favourite wannabe human, who excels in every scene he’s in”.
One of my favourite reviews, however, is the review posted to eBay to convince someone to buy a copy of the book from BlueCowboy 2002: this review so steadfastly refused to compromise the author’s position that the book was awful that it wasn’t until 2022 that I realised it was actually somebody else’s review with any semblance of positive comment excised from it. I often wonder if BlueCowboy 2002 managed to sell their copy. As an aside, you can hear me discuss this with the review’s author on The Doctor Who Literature Podcast.