AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
3.5 out of 5
Doctor Who: Heart Of Stone
Originally released as one half of a 2-in-1 book (with Justin Richards' 'Death Riders'), this book features the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) and his companions Amy and Rory. Arriving at a farm in the Midlands, the Doctor, Amy and Rory soon find themselves faced with a lumbering Rock Man, which seems to be turning everything it touches to stone. They then have to unravel the creature's origins before it can turn them, the farm and possibly the whole world to stone.
It's not clear from the cover, but I think this book is intended for a Young Adult audience because the prose and plot are somewhat more simplistic than other examples of Baxendale's work I've read. However, I have no problem with a bit of YA despite being an OA, in fact sometimes I find it a more straightforward and enjoyable read, but I'm aware there are readers who would be put off purely on the YA basis.
As for the story itself, it's fine. Not exceptional in either a good or bad sense, just a perfectly fine short adventure for the Doctor and his friends. There doesn't feel like there's any great stakes to the book, despite the threat to the world, but at the same time it's not too dissimilar to some of the fluff filler episodes of the TV series itself.
3 out of 5
Doctor Who: Prisoner Of The Daleks
An original adventure featuring the Tenth Doctor (the brilliant David Tennant). Accidentally slipping into a period in time before the Great Time War, the Doctor becomes trapped on the planet Hurala. An encounter with his old foes the Daleks soon leads him to seek refuge with a crew of Dalek hunters. However, both they and the Doctor are about to fall into a Dalek trap.
As near as I can tell this story falls between the loss of the Doctor's companions at the end of Series Four and his regeneration, with the Time Lord seeming caught between a desire to be alone and his unending need for human company. Baxendale does a pretty good job of capturing the essence of Tennant's performance and here we get a Doctor who one minute is melancholy and then, with a quick, "Alons-y!" suddenly breaks into a cheeky grin.
We're also given a singular Dalek villain in the form of Dalek X, the Supreme Dalek's High Inquisitor. Dalek X is rather more talkative than most Daleks and his ruthless cunning makes for some nice barbed exchanges between him and the Doctor.
For me, the only real downside to this largely enjoyable adventure was the character of Jon Bowman. We're supposed to buy him as a grizzled veteran and erstwhile hero, but his early interactions with the Doctor just come off at best as petulant and at worst just plain stupid. After that he becomes something of a defeatist. So, although the tone of the book seems to suggest that he's the main hero of the piece, aside from the Doctor of course, I just couldn't warm to him as a protagonist.
4 out of 5
Doctor Who: The Glamour Chronicles - Deep Time
The conclusion to the loose Glamour Chronicles trilogy featuring the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and his companion Clara. The Doctor and Clara join the crew of the Alexandria on its mission into a wormhole beyond the edge of the galaxy in search of the missing vessel Carthage, as well as clues to the powerful and long-vanished Phaeron civilisation.
First off I'll deal with the whole 'Glamour Chronicles' thing. The other two books of the so-called trilogy ('Royal Blood' by Una McCormack and 'Big Bang Generation' by Gary Russell) were not good at all and, perhaps worse given the marketing, had little to nothing in common in terms of story. In fact, even the Glamour itself, the supposed uniting thread of the 'trilogy' was a tacked-on MacGuffin, the details of which neither author seemed to know nor have conferred with their colleagues regarding. In short, as a trilogy, it's a mess. I was therefore going to mark this book down due to being the conclusion to something that was never really set up as a coherent narrative requiring a conclusion, but to be honest that just wouldn't be fair to Baxendale. This book does give us a proper revelation of the nature of the Glamour, as well as a satisfying conclusion to its story; it's just a real shame that it's not paying off on groundwork that should've been laid by McCormack and Russell.
As for the story of this book itself, it's solid Doctor Who fare. A team of scientists and explorers setting off into the unknown with the Doctor and companion along for the ride. Despite a relatively large cast of core characters, almost all of them feel fully fleshed out and when a few do meet their end (some quite horrifically), you genuinely feel the impact of their deaths. The only character who doesn't really work is Marco, who is so transparently malicious that there are just no surprises to his story arc and you wonder why any of the other characters tolerated him for as long as they did.
The other thing to note where Baxendale differs from the other writers of The Glamour Chronicles is that he actually does a great job of capturing the tone and feel of both Capaldi's Doctor and Jenna Coleman's Clara, as well as their relationship to one another.
4 out of 5
Doctor Who: Wishing Well
An original adventure featuring the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and his companion Martha Jones. Arriving in present day rural England, the Doctor and Martha are introduced to a quaint village centred around an ancient wishing well. Soon, however, strange events begin to unfold and they discover that there is more hiding down the well than simply a mythical lost treasure.
Baxendale does a great job of setting the scene here and the steady build of the mystery was my favourite element of the book; that feeling that something's going on just out of sight. Unfortunately, the reveal of what's actually down the wishing well turned out to be a little disappointing for me. However, it has to be said that the events of the book play out exactly as you would expect an episode of the TV series to go, so kudos to the author for getting such a firm grip of his source material. For my part, however, I felt that more could've been done in a novel than we'd normally see on TV, so I was left a little disappointed.
Undeniably well-written, this book just didn't quite have the punchy conclusion that I'd hoped for.
3 out of 5