It is the day after John F. Kennedy's assassination and the faces of the dead are everywhere. PC Reg Cranfield sees his late father in the mists along Totter's Lane. Reporter Mae Callon sees her grandmother in a coffee stain on her desk. FBI Special Agent Warren Skeet finds his long-dead partner staring back at him from raindrops on a window pane.
The faces begin to talk and scream and push through into our world as the alien Shroud begins to feast on the grief of a world in mourning. Can the Eleventh Doctor dig deep enough into his own sorrow to save mankind?
After Clara and the Doctor help a ship to fly away from a world covered in a vast, bubble bath filled liquid, they are entailed in an adventure that involves them thwarting an alien's plot to send the whole world into grief. They end up meeting a news reporter and an FBI agent on 23 November 1963, after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, who, along with an army of clowns, help the Doctor to stop the Shroud from draining the world full of happiness.
- Eleventh Doctor
- Clara Oswald
- Mae Callon
- Reg Cranfield
- Warren Skeet
- The Shroud
- Penelope Holroyde
- Ben Parsons
- Mairi Ellison
- Andrew Ross
- Edith Thomas
- Mr Parsons
- Michael Green
- Private Wright
- Sergeant Scott
- General Harley B. West
- Captain Adam Keating
- Flip Flop
- Bev Sanford
- Pinky Bradford
Individuals imitated by the Shroud
- Mae works at the Dallas Morning News on Young Street.
- The Doctor says that the wormhole circling Earth is similar to a doughnut before redacting his statement and saying that it's more like a Scotch egg.
- An ambulance is used as the Doctor's main mode of transportation when the TARDIS doesn't work.
- By using some form of telepathy, the Doctor travels inside Ben's mind to see what the Shroud is doing to him.
- The Doctor brings up his degree in cheese again, but specifies that it's "only the stinky, blue kind".
- Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and her book, On Death and Dying, are brought up when the Doctor realises that her theory about the five stages of grief were correct. The two of them apparently argued about it.
- The Doctor spent his gap year in the Bethlem Royal Hospital, mentioning that it was a nice place before he went to visit Peter Streete.
- The Doctor once met John F. Kennedy at a party in the 1950s, just before getting engaged to Marilyn Monroe at Frank Sinatra's house.
- The Doctor uses the foot of a sock, a satsuma, a nectarine, and a length of string to explain how a wormhole works.
- The Doctor describes the Time Vortex as a "huge, complicated, multidimensional, trans-temporal thingy" that comes in two colours.
- The houses built into the side of the hill are described as hobbit holes by Clara.
- Contents of the Doctor's pockets include the sonic screwdriver, the psychic paper, a satsuma, a nectarine, a piece of string, a pair of scissors, a carrot, an original Paul E. Wirt pen, given to him by Mark Twain after he had written the first draft of Huckleberry Finn, a large key, a computer mouse, a baseball signed by Babe Ruth, and the recorder used by his second incarnation, which he plays.
- Semtis is a planet situated in the top left-hand corner of the Andromeda galaxy.
- The Doctor refers to clown cars as the only other dimensionally transcendental vehicle in the universe besides the TARDIS.
- Clara comes across a sauna in the TARDIS.
- The Doctor mentions that he met a Sontaran stand-up comedian.
- The Doctor asks Mae if her grandmother is an alien or at least an Auton.
- Of the three novels released in April 2013, this is the only one to feature Clara Oswald and marks her literary debut. It is also, to date, the only full-length Eleventh Doctor novel to feature her.
- At the time of its release, this was the only piece of spin-off fiction confirmed to feature Clara, as neither the Doctor Who Magazine nor Doctor Who Adventures comic strips, nor AudioGO talking books line had announced any upcoming stories featuring the companion.
- The novel is set on and around 23rd November, 1963, the day Doctor Who debuted, and revisits Totter's Lane. A meta reference to this takes place when Doctor notes that it's Saturday teatime in Britain and "the fun is about to begin." Published in the 50th anniversary year, this is the only original novel published that year to have an explicit tie to the milestone. However, its sibling releases, Plague of the Cybermen and The Dalek Generation, released on the same day also, contain brief (and possibly coincidental) references to the anniversary: the former mentions Karn ahead of the premier of The Night of the Doctor, while the latter ends with the Doctor declaring "No more".
- A character in this book, Reg Cranfield, is a policeman patrolling Totter's Lane, and is named for the actor who played the policeman at the beginning of "An Unearthly Child".
- The wormhole in this story is described as unique; there was a tunnel that needed to be traversed, unlike other wormholes that were instantaneous, there was breathable air, it had a solid area to walk across (though it was described as uneven), it resembled a "dead" Time Vortex, and had the bodies of the Shroud's previous victims spread across its walls. The Doctor mentions that the bodies greatly resembled the bodies of Pompeii. (TV: The Fires of Pompeii, AUDIO: The Fires of Vulcan) People that travel across the wormhole also have a chance of experiencing a mental jump and going through what one of the victims went through before their death.
- Various incarnations of the Doctor attended the Brigadier's funeral. Paragraphs of the book (without name) refer to the Second, Third, Sixth, Seventh and Ninth Doctor being present during the event, and the First Doctor once mentions that all of his incarnations were present at the funeral and behaved themselves, although some arguing did occur at the wake. (PROSE: The Gift) The Eleventh Doctor is made aware of the Brigadier's death in The Wedding of River Song, however the Seventh Doctor appeared to be aware of the circumstances in Battlefield.
- This was chronologically the last BBC New Series Adventures novel to date to feature the Eleventh Doctor, the other two novels released at the same time taking place prior to Clara becoming a companion. (A later release, Tales of Trenzalore was a short story collection, not a novel.)
- Just before using the Once More With Feeling on himself, the Doctor reassures Clara by saying that it's "as easy as falling off a mushroom on Mechanus". (TV: The Chase)
- The Doctor previously visited Dallas during JFK's assassination, albeit in his ninth incarnation. (TV: Rose)
- An enormous number of previous companions and their departures are shown as the Doctor uses the Once More With Feeling on himself, including Susan Foreman, (TV: The Dalek Invasion of Earth) Zoe Heriot, Jamie McCrimmon, (TV: The War Games) Jo Grant, (TV: The Green Death) Sarah Jane Smith, (TV: The Hand of Fear) Adric, (TV: Earthshock) Peri Brown, (TV: Mindwarp) Mel (TV: Dragonfire) Grace Holloway, (TV: Doctor Who) Jack Harkness, (TV: The Parting of the Ways) Astrid Peth, (TV: Voyage of the Damned) Amy Pond, Rory Williams (TV: The Angels Take Manhattan) and Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (whose death was mentioned in TV: The Wedding of River Song). Several more characters are shown and mentioned as well, including David Campbell, (TV: The Dalek Invasion of Earth) Clifford Jones, (TV: The Green Death) Nyssa, Tegan Jovanka, (TV: Earthshock) Yrcanos, Kiv, (TV: Mindwarp) Rose Tyler, (TV: The Parting of the Ways) River Song, (TV: Forest of the Dead) John Benton, Liz Shaw, Mike Yates, Jo Grant, the Second Doctor, the Third Doctor, the Sixth Doctor, the Seventh Doctor, and the Ninth Doctor.
- The Doctor uses Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart's name, but changes his rank to Colonel. The Brigadier was a Colonel when the Second Doctor first met him, (TV: The Web of Fear) with another character noting that, at this time, the real Lethbridge-Stewart is on manoeuvres in Salisbury Plains.
- The Doctor mentions his cheesemaking degree. (TV: The God Complex)
- The Doctor keeps a satsuma in his pocket; his previous incarnation had come across someone else who did this. (TV: The Christmas Invasion)
- At the Brigadier's funeral, Benton commands the UNIT soldiers, "Five rounds rapid!", which is what the Brigadier said to Jenkins in TV: The Dæmons.
- The Doctor speaks Baby. (TV: The Lodger, Closing Time)
- The Doctor mentions the Roswell crash. (TV: Dreamland)
- The Doctor mentions briefly spending time in Bedlam, and also meeting Peter Streete. (TV: The Shakespeare Code)
- The Doctor rediscovers his recorder in his pocket and plays Three Blind Mice. (TV: The Power of the Daleks)
- The Doctor finds the fast return switch on the TARDIS console and remarks on how he hasn't used it since it got stuck and tried to drag him back to the beginning of the universe. (TV: The Edge of Destruction)
Editions published outside Britain
- Published in the USA by Broadway Books in 2013 as a paperback edition.
- Published in the Czech Republic by Jota in 2014 as a hardback edition.
- Published in Brazil by Suma de Letras in 2015 as a paperback edition.
- Published in China by New Star Press in 2019 as a paperback edition.
- This novel was released as an audiobook on 4 July 2013 complete and unabridged by BBC Audio and read by Frances Barber.
- Official Shroud of Sorrow page at Penguin Books
- The Discontinuity Guide to: Shroud of Sorrow at The Whoniverse
- The Cloister Library: Shroud of Sorrow