Doctor Who: Time Lord Fairy Tales by Justin Richards and David Wardle

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Doctor Who: Time Lord Fairy Tales by Justin Richards and David Wardle

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Category: Short Stories
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Falling one step short of brilliance, the invention here does not quite match the intent. Still, these bonus stories with The Doctor in different folkloric situations do make for a whimsical gift item for the fan.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: October 2015
Publisher: Penguin Group
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781405920025

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One of the ways Doctor Who has esteemed itself through belonging on our screens so long is the way the title character has slowly become an archetypal figure. We know what he's supposed to do – save the day, and we also know that if he's at either extreme of the scale – falling on a case through mishap, or being omniscient and bang on time and perfect, it doesn't work. But there's a lot of middle ground there, and countless tales for him to wander along with his knowledge, his TARDIS and a sonic screwdriver, and put things just so. His fifty years on screen have allowed him to become a stock figure almost – pretty much with a set task, as if he were, perhaps, a character in a routine story, such as a fairy tale. And as if to prove that genre can host him, here is a whole book of short stories in his universe – although that's not to say he's in every one…

We start with one of the better inventions of the modern series, the Weeping Angels, and a charming tale. Yes, fairy tale has to have charm – although making Cinderella go to a ball hosted by vampires is slightly stretching that. Justin Richards clearly had to not only come up with the obvious, easily-chosen subjects for the different stories here, but to make the results different enough from the expected, allowing for the obvious joke in his titles to be bested by the full tale to come. He does that in simple words during 'Little Rose Riding Hood', where she is not only the target of a Zygon but alert to the dangers of a different nasty, thus giving us the best in-joke related to the series in many an effort. The Doctor (aah, but which one?) gets to be a Pied Piper, to allay the thoughts that while the book is inventive enough he doesn't actually star as the main role in many of these tales, as well as meeting a Beast with a potential beauty, and encouraging revenge in what appears to be an original fairy tale.

So, for the tales without the Doctor? We meet the wirrn, who have been revisited since their debut in The Ark of Space, and the successors to Graff, one of the more obscure characters from way back when. There's 'The Three Little Sontarans' (those jokey titles, again), and a lad called Jak to prove himself just as archetypal a character when he rescues the fair maiden from the Nimon. Snow White saves the day – with seven diminutive minors – but I don't know how the day related to the series at all, to be honest (it's still very good to read about, though). The Hansel and Gretel equivalents get involved in a semi-sequel to a story also featuring eating, proving the invention from the ground up in creating such a book – nothing feels tacked together lightly. The Slitheen turn up as some of the forty thieves, there is one troll to three others, and we end with something again not really necessarily from the canon.

So, will these stories become part of the canon – their author is, basically, in charge of all Who books these days? Well, yes and no. They were on the whole more than enjoyable – I laughed, and there were gritty bits inasmuch as they're definitely a PG-rated read. It was great to see the fairy tale and so many well-known stories turned on their heads to accommodate (or not) The Doctor, and after all those years of quarries it was wonderful to have stories set in proper, folkloric forests. But I found a little of the telling to be too straightforward, which makes me think they will only really find favour with the young, or those with an interest in narratology. They have a sameness about them, which at least the star-studded BBC audio version will compensate for. And in the end there were too many that seemed insubstantial – we've had The Doctor inspire Shakespeare, Peter Pan and more before now, so this book did feel a little shy at putting the character into as many iconic positions and characters as it might have done. Still, it's a brilliantly handsome edition, the whole idea of the book is to provide something different and unique and we're pretty much rewarded with that – in the end my caveats should not stand for too much, for in the right hands this is still a pleasure.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

If you need to catch up on the series, this is the best place to start. If you're here for new, all-ages-friendly fairy tales, then you will love The Lunar Chronicles: Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

Buy Doctor Who: Time Lord Fairy Tales by Justin Richards and David Wardle at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Doctor Who: Time Lord Fairy Tales by Justin Richards and David Wardle at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Doctor Who: Time Lord Fairy Tales by Justin Richards and David Wardle at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Doctor Who: Time Lord Fairy Tales by Justin Richards and David Wardle at Amazon.com.

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