Richards, Justin

About the Author:

Justin Richards worked as the Creative Director for the BBC Books Doctor Who series and has written for stage, screen and audio.  He lives in Warwick, England and is married with two children.

 

AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:

3 out of 5

(27 books)

Doctor Who: Andiba And The Four Slitheen

Originally part of the 'Time Lord Fairy Tales' anthology, this short story was produced as a bound book for the special slipcase edition.  Based on Aladdin and the Forty Thieves, this story sees young Andiba discover a Slitheen spaceship whilst she's out for a walk.  Overhearing the sinister plans of the Slitheen, Andiba has to protect a nearby distillery from destruction.

This short story has three major factors detracting from it, the first of which is simply the absence of the Doctor.  I know these stories aren't intended to be proper Doctor Who stories, instead being pastiches of fairy tales, but the far superior 'The Scruffy Piper' proved that the inclusion of the Doctor could maintain the spirit of the fairy tales whilst giving us an entertaining story of our favourite renegade Time Lord.

The second problem I had with the book was that the Slitheen are among my least favourite recurring villains from so-called New Who.  They're silly, one-note and in no way threatening.  I therefore wasn't thrilled to see them here.  The final issue I had with this story was that it the plot was just so obvious and unremarkable as to be insulting to the reader.

2 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: Apollo 23

An original adventure starring Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor and his companion Amy Pond.  When a man suffocates in a London park and an American astronaut appears out of thin air, the Doctor and Amy head to the moon to investigate.  They discover a secret base where sinister experiments are being undertaken that presage an alien attempt to invade the Earth.

Usefully, since he was (or maybe is) the editor for BBC Books' Doctor Who range, Justin Richards really gets what makes the adventures of the Doctor popular.  Whilst what I've read of his Who stuff previously wasn't all gold, it has to be said that he always knows the essential pieces that need to be in the mix.  Here he gets the mix just right and we get a thoroughly enjoyable addition to the Doctor's stories.

The setting of a moonbase is tried and tested territory for Who and it's used to good effect here, providing the perfect isolated location but which is, clearly, also the perfect staging post for an attempted invasion of Earth.  Similarly, whilst the 'Invasion of the Bodysnatchers'-style plot feels familiar, it never feels unnecessarily derivative.

Where Richards really gets it right, however, is in his spot-on characterisations of Amy and, in particular, the Eleventh Doctor.  The Eleventh is a tough character to nail, being by turns silly and fearsome, frustrating and charming, but he is done perfect justice here.  In fact, his childlike enthusiasm for Apollo 23 is absolutely infectious and toned just right.

4 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: Cinderella And The Magic Box

Originally part of the 'Time Lord Fairy Tales' anthology, this short story was produced as a bound book for the special slipcase edition.  Cinderella is taken to the ball to meet her handsome prince by a stranger with a magic blue box and who seems to have another agenda behind just getting her cleaned up and dressed in finery.

This is a fairly straightforward retelling of Cinderella but made a little more interesting by the inclusion of the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) and a cadre of vampires.  It's not bad, but not remarkable either.

3 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: Code Of The Krillitanes

A Quick Reads novella featuring the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant).  The Doctor begins investigating the manufacturers of Brainy Crisps; snacks which seems to increase the intelligence of those who eat them.  He soon discovers that the Krillitanes are behind things but has to infiltrate their company in order to uncover the full alien plot.

There's nothing overtly wrong with this book but ultimately it is pretty bland, which in some ways is worse.  Although I liked the story which introduced the Krillitanes on TV, it wasn't because the aliens themselves were particularly interesting and here Richards more or less just rehashes the same story as that TV episode anyway.  Immediately before reading this, I read 'The Krilitane Storm' by Christopher Cooper which genuinely did manage to do some interesting things with these somewhat lacklustre bat-monsters, leaving Richards no excuse for failing to do so himself.

The only bit of the book which showed any depth was where his new human friend asks the Doctor if he's hiring and the Doctor admits that whilst he does have a vacancy, he's not looking for someone to fill it.  This shows the slightly damaged Tenth Doctor we saw travelling alone in the Specials between Series 4 and his regeneration.

2 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: Death Riders

Originally published in a 2-in-1 book (with Trevor Baxendale's 'Heart of Stone'), this Young Adult Doctor Who adventure features the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) and his companions Amy and Rory.  The TARDIS arrives on a mining asteroid which, the Doctor and his friends discover, is playing host to the travelling Galactic Fair.  But as the under-construction roller coaster known as the Death Ride nears completion, people begin to be killed in the Off-Limits tunnels which the ride passes through.

Partially because of its YA format (and there's nothing wrong with adults reading YA, in case you're one of those snobs who says otherwise) but also because of its tonal similarities, this book reminded me a lot of the teen horror books of the nineties.  Although it was the Goosebumps series which pioneered that subgenre, this book reminded more of the Star Wars Galaxy of Fear books (by John Whitman) I so enjoyed back in the day.  There's also a certain amount of Scooby Doo influence here too, particularly with the whole haunted amusement park vibe.  If any of those things is not your cup of tea, then this isn't the book for you, but personally I found it a pleasantly nostalgic read.

Nothing ground-breaking, of course, and the twist-reveal of the real villain was obvious way in advance, but a perfectly enjoyable light adventure.

3 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: Demontage

Book twenty of the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) Adventures.  The Doctor and his companions Sam and Fitz decide to hit the casinos of Vega Station in a friendly competition.  However, with a presidential visit in the offing and an exhibition of rare artworks about to be unveiled, a string of assaults and sabotage reveal that there is something sinister going on behind the scenes on Vega.

There are a number of nagging issues with this book, including too big a cast of characters with too many subplots to maintain momentum and the mystery of the paintings being almost totally lacking in mystery, except in that it's a totally inexplicable and convoluted thing for the villains of the piece to use for their ends.  

The biggest problem, however, is how Richards uses the three main characters; or fails to do so, as the case may be.  The Doctor, whilst characterised well, has very little to do for the first half of the book, but his companions fare even worse.  I recently read the EDA 'Seeing I' (reviewed here) in which Sam Jones proves to be a strong, independent and capable character, but her role here is almost entirely reactionary and often is little more than rolling her eyes at the Doctor and Fitz.  Now, this is the first book featuring Fitz I've ever read (I believe it was only his second ever appearance) and I got absolutely no sense of who he is from it.  We're never given any details of where he comes from, why he's travelling with the Doctor or what his skill set is.  At best here he's bland and at worst he's a buffoon.  I've heard he goes on to become a popular companion with fans, but there's no sense here of why that would be.

Even with all that against it, this is not a bad book.  It's pace picks up considerably in the second half and keeps you guessing as to what's around the next corner for the TARDIS crew.  Sadly the elements mentioned above hold it back far too much for it to be a truly good Doctor Who adventure either.

3 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: Dreams Of Empire

A Past Doctor Adventure featuring the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and his companions Victoria and Jamie.  The TARDIS arrives on a remote prison asteroid on the fringes of the Haddron Empire and immediately the Doctor and his friends become suspects in a murder investigation.  The intrigue within the prison pales in comparison to the danger fast approaching in a military cruiser and only by figuring out one can they hope to survive the other.

This book didn't start too promisingly, with the high-level politics of the Haddron Empire being very transparently borrowed from Roman history of the First Triumvirate.  There's a very clear Pompey Magnus analogue and the author even goes so far as to call the Julius Caesar analogue 'Kesar'.  Whilst I'll admit that the subsequent civil war differs from how history turned out, having such a blatantly ripped-off setting was a problem straight out of the gate.

Thankfully Richards doesn't belabour the historical parallels for too long and instead we soon get into a thoroughly enjoyable, if somewhat predictable, base-under-siege storyline.  This type of story was the bread and butter of Troughton's era of Doctor Who and the author does a great job of bringing this sly but lovable incarnation of the Doctor to life.  The companions have less to do but Richards makes up for that by giving us some genuinely interesting supporting characters whose fates you definitely become invested in.

I have to say that I saw the two big revelations of the third act coming a mile off, but having done so didn't significantly affect how much I enjoyed this book.

4 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: Frozen Beauty

Originally part of the 'Time Lord Fairy Tales' anthology, this short story was produced as a bound book for the special slipcase edition.  Inspired by the story of Sleeping Beauty (but not, if you were wondering, 'Frozen') this book follows a team sent to recover the crew of a lost starship which malfunctioned, its crew frozen in suspended animation.

This is a slightly more interesting retelling of the original story than many of the Time Lord Fairy Tales are, making it more of science fiction adventure than pseudo-mythical children's story.  Two aspects of it didn't really work for me, however.  The first is the use of the Wirrn, insect-like aliens from Tom Baker's era, who just seem tacked on so fans can go "Hey!  I recognise them!".  Since I'm not familiar with that particular Tom Baker story, they did not tick the nostaglia box for me and their appearance seemed superfluous.  The other problem I had with the story is one that actually lies at the feet of Sleeping Beauty.  I don't care how attractive you find someone you don't know, you shouldn't be kissing them whilst they're asleep.  There's a half-hearted attempt to suggest that the handsome space captain is giving the titular beauty the kiss of life, but it's so thin as to just highlight how rapey that whole scene is.

3 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: Grave Matter

Part of the Past Doctor Adventures series, this book features the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and his companion Peri Brown.  The TARDIS arrives on a fog-shrouded island in what seems to be the 19th Century, but certain anachronisms soon begin to spark the Doctor's suspicions.  As he and Peri begin to discover odd animal behaviour and a series of mysterious deaths, they realise that a sinister scientific experiment is underway on the island.

With its fog-shrouded islands and its suspicious and insular villagers, this book has a great classic gothic horror feel to it, with the Doctor and Peri aware that something's going on, but unsure who is involved.  It's wonderfully atmospheric to begin with and then Richards adds in the neighbouring island of Sheldon's Folly, where a ramshackle old mansion house is host to a secret scientific research centre, which put me pleasantly in mind of the setting of the original Resident Evil game (novelised as 'The Umbrella Conspiracy' by S. D. Perry).  I guess you could call it all a bit cliche, but for me it was thoroughly engaging to see the Doctor and his companion dropped in amongst the familiar horror tropes; they're not exactly your everyday horror movie protagonists, after all.

Richards nicely captures the Sixth Doctor's brash arrogance, without making him insufferably overbearing and Peri is more engaging here than in other appearances.  I particularly liked the way that Peri doesn't put up with any of the Doctor's crap and calls him out on it when he's getting too ahead of himself.

Overall an enjoyable and atmospheric adventure, with added zombies (well, sort of).

4 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: Helana And The Beast

Originally part of the 'Time Lord Fairy Tales' anthology, this short story was produced as a bound book for the special slipcase edition.  A retelling of Beauty and the Beast featuring the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi).

As with a number of other stories in the Time Lord Fairy Tales series, this is largely a simple retelling of a familiar story.  Really, aside from being set on an alien world, the only significant change here is that it is the Doctor that turns the Beast back into a man, instead of the power of love.  Luckily for this book, Peter Capaldi's incarnation is among my favourites and it lifts what would otherwise have been a bit of a non-event of a book.

3 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: Jak And The Wormhole

Originally part of the 'Time Lord Fairy Tales' anthology, this short story was produced as a bound book for the special slipcase edition.  Based on the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, this book sees a young man having the travel through a wormhole and rescue a princess.

There's not a lot to be said about this book other than that's it's pretty much an unremarkable rehashing of the classic fairy tale.  It does, however, see the return of a race of alien antagonists who once tangled with the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), as well a weird scene clearly homaging the meeting of Luke and Princess Leia in Star Wars.

2 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: Little Rose Riding Hood

Originally part of the 'Time Lord Fairy Tales' anthology, this short story was produced as a bound book for the special slipcase edition.  A girl named Rose has to make her way alone through the forest, avoiding the legendary Bad Wolf, in order to see her grandmother, but not all is as it seems when she finally arrives.

Richards does a great job here of capturing the dark and spooky feel of some old fairy tales and a strong air of mystery is lent to the story by the odd woodcutter Rose encounters and by the hideous creatures that pursue her through the forest.  In fact, the scene where Rose sits down to have a cup of tea with her grandmother and slowly realises that this isn't her grandmother reads almost like a true horror story.

Unlike some of the Time Lord Fairy Tales books, this one has actual ties to its parent franchise.  So, whilst the Rose in question is not the one you might think, the woodcutter with his 'fantastic' shed is definitely a welcome presence, as is his confrontation with the creatures who've replaced grandma (big red rubbery things covered in suckers, venom sacs in the tongue...).

4 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: Martha In The Mirror

An original adventure featuring the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and his companion Martha (self-evidently).  Arriving at Castle Extremis amid a crucial peace conference, the Doctor and Martha immediately discover that it is the site of numerous mysteries and intrigues.  They must then unravel the plots of the delegates, discover the identity of the strange girl who hides in the castle and defeat the plot involving the Mortal Mirror.

Richards does a great job of creating scenarios filled with intrigue and tension, here by not only giving the main characters a crumbling gothic castle to explore but also placing it at the crux point of a peace treaty to end a vicious interplanetary war.  I really enjoyed the fact that there are a number of plot threads woven throughout the book, since it adds a sense of depth that can sometimes be lacking in these relatively short Who adventures.

Unfortunately, what lets this book down, and the reason I've only given it three out of five instead of four, is the portrayal of the Doctor.  The Doctor has long used carefully targeted buffoonery in order to confuse his antagonists and Tennant's incarnation was always great at being a bit silly even in serious circumstances.  Here, however, the author gets carried away and the Doctor can't get through a single sentence without making some pun or reeling off some gibberish.  It can't even be said to be a tactic on his part since he still does it whilst having private conversations with Martha.  It became so irritating that I rapidly began to dread the scenes featuring the Doctor, which is certainly not a good thing to be able to say about a Doctor Who novel.

3 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: Silhouette

In this original adventure the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara are reunited with their old friends Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax.  Amid the wonder of a Victorian Frost Fair a series of mysterious murders attract the attention of the Doctor and his associates and the mystery leads to someone intent on turning people into living weapons.

The setting of this story is so evocative that the TV series decided to make the most of the Frost Fair in a later episode too and, like that episode, the villain of the piece is so blithely amoral and self-interested that you'll find yourself just as frustrated and angered by him as the Doctor does.

Where Richards really knocks it out of the park, however, is with his characterisation of the familiar characters.  He captures the delicate balance of kindness and outrage that Capaldi displayed so well on screen and the relationship between the Doctor and Clara is also pitch-perfect.  Whilst it has to be said that we don't actually get to see much of Vastra as the Great Detective here, it is more than made up for by just how charming and proactive Jenny is.  For me though the real high point was Strax.  He's a character whose onscreen appearances I've always loved (even if he has made the Sontarans a less threatening enemy than they used to be) and here we get to see him in all of his violence-loving glory.  My favourite moment in the whole book was Strax's paraphrase of a famous Sherlock Holmes line when he undertakes some detective work of his own: "When one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must also be eliminated".  A close second in the favourite-moment stakes is where the Doctor, once again, accidentally quotes 'The Lion King'.

4 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: Sirgwain And The Green Knight

Originally part of the 'Time Lord Fairy Tales' anthology, this short story was produced as a bound book for the special slipcase edition.  Based on an Arthurian legend, this book sees the brave knight Sirgwain having to confront a stranded Ice Warrior.

This book's best element is its exploration of the fact that although the Ice Warriors have usually appeared in Who as antagonists, they're rarely outright villains, having a rigid code of honour.  Other than that, there's not much to this book. 

Although I will say that the name Sirgwain just irritates me; Richards could just as easily either come up with a brand new name or even used the actual legendary Sir Gawain.  Instead we're given the lazy option, clearly just intended to make the book's title seem cleverer than it actually is.

3 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: Snow White And The Seven Keys To Doomsday

Originally part of the 'Time Lord Fairy Tales' anthology, this short story was produced as a bound book for the special slipcase edition.  Young palace maid Snow White overhears Queen Salima's plans to recover the seven activation keys to the terrible Doomsday Machine and decides to prevent it from happening.

Obviously based on the fairy tale of Snow White, this book also references a line spoken by Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor in Series Six, where he lists the stories he enjoyed as a child.  This nicely calls back to the premise of this series which is, ostensibly, fairy tales told to young Gallifreyans.

Beyond that callback, however, there's not much of particular interest to this story.

2 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: The Clockwise Man

An adventure featuring the the Ninth Doctor (the Christopher Ecclestone version) and his companion Rose Tyler.  Travelling to 1924 to see the British Empire Exhibition in London, the Doctor and Rose find themselves embroiled in a mysterious plot.  They have to figure out the riddle of a group of counter-revolutionaries, sinister clockwork killers, an exiled mass murderer and a seemingly immortal and omnipresent cat.

This is the fourth Doctor Who novel I've read and I have to say it is the one I've found least enjoyable.  There's nothing specific wrong with this book, it just comes over as a fairly shallow and unremarkable story, lacking in both the gripping tension and joyful wonder that makes Who so great.

I certainly did enjoy the exploration of the character Repple, with the revelation of his origins and his own attempts to cope with the information, but I have to admit that this too never really got as good as I hoped it would.

Overall, not a bad Doctor Who story but far from a great one as well.

3 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: The Deviant Strain

An original adventure in which the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Ecclestone), along with Rose and Captain Jack, finds himself investigating a mysterious distress signal beamed out into space from an abandoned Soviet submarine base.  Their arrival coincides with the arrival of a contingent of Russian special forces as well as the bizarre and horrific death of one of the members of the small community which borders the base.

The setting of this story is sheer brilliance.  I can't think of a better place to set a Doctor Who horror-mystery than in a snow-bound, isolated community where Soviet nuclear submarines have been left to decay alongside a nearly-abandoned secret research facility.  Truly, Richards brings this so vividly to life that I'll now always be disappointed that this isn't a story I'll get to see on screen.

And the author keeps us on our toes in terms of what the danger is; having a mixture of alien and human factors that, whilst linked, require separate unravelling by the TARDIS travellers.  On top of that is just a hint of real-world political intrigue as the inhabitants of the Novrosk Penninsula continue to deal with the aftermath of Soviet-era policies and Cold War holdovers.

Sure, the obligatory 'running away from monsters' section of the story does drag a little, but even that is mitigated by the novel factor of it involving not only the Doctor, Jack and Rose, but also the soldiers and the villagers too; all banding together to attempt to survive.

4 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: The Emperor Dalek's New Clothes

Written for the special slipcase edition of Time Lord Fairy Tales, this is a separately bound short story which draws inspiration from the classic children's story 'The Emperor's New Clothes'.  Here a group of rebels on a Dalek occupied world see an opportunity to strike a devastating blow to the invaders when the Dalek Emperor himself (herself?  itself?) visits the planet.

This is only a very (very) short story, but as the first of the Time Lord Fairy Tales I've read, I was impressed by its maturity.  Don't get me wrong, the prose is straightforward and unsophisticated, not a patch of Richards' novels, but the themes of the Daleks killing and enslaving are not the glossed-over-for-children versions that I was worried might be the case.

There's nothing mind-blowing about this short book, of course, but it's fine.

3 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: The Garden Of Statues

Originally part of the 'Time Lord Fairy Tales' anthology, this short story was produced as a bound book for the special slipcase edition.  In a grand house and elderly couple live and allow children to play in their garden.  A year after the elderly couple pass away a boy and a girl climb the wall of the garden to find it overgrown and filled with statues of angels.

This book is exactly the sort of story that I'd hoped for with the Time Lord fairy tales premise, as it captures both the tone of classic fairy tales and the spirit of Doctor Who.  What makes this more impressive is that in other books of the series the absence of the Doctor has been severely detrimental, but here it is entirely inconsequential.  The Weeping Angels are probably the best monster created for so-called New Who and this book manages to truly capture the feel of their first (and best) appearance in the episode 'Blink'.  There's even a nice bit of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff that feels very Who but also perfectly fairy tale.

4 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: The Gingerbread Trap

Originally part of the 'Time Lord Fairy Tales' anthology, this short story was produced as a bound book for the special slipcase edition.  Inspired by Hansel and Gretel, this short story sees siblings Malkus and Everlyne getting lost in the forest and encountering a Krillitane.

There's nothing massively original about this book and it's more or less a straightforward retelling of the story of Hansel and Gretel, except instead of a witch, there's an alien.  It's not a bad or boring book, unlike some of the Time Lord Fairy Tales, but it's also not a really good one either.

3 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: The Grief Collector

Originally part of the 'Time Lord Fairy Tales' anthology, this short story was produced as a bound book for the special slipcase edition.  Based on the fairy tale of Rumpelstiltskin this is the story of a young woman who makes a deal with a mysterious visitor only to have the deal turn sour just when she is about to get all she dreams of.  With help from a second mysterious stranger, this one with a pinstripe suit and a blue box, Melina must confront the Grief Collector and rescue her beloved.

This is a perfectly fine reinterpretation of Rumpelstiltskin, even if the way it unfolds is fairly predictable.  Honestly, would you trust someone willing to give you a vast sum of money in exchange for 'all the tears you shed on your wedding day'?  Whilst the female protagonist is given a fair bit of agency here, that one decision marks her as an idiot. 

The appearance of the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) is something of a two-edged sword as well.  It's great to see him get involved, but he's not nearly as proactive as that character should be, more or less just pointing Melina in the right direction and then standing back to watch.

3 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: The Resurrection Casket

An original story featuring the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose.  When the TARDIS loses power on a world where advanced technology doesn't work, the Doctor and Rose become embroiled in the hunt for the lost treasure of a ruthless space pirate who, according to legend, possessed a device capable of making him immortal.

This book is an enjoyable adventure story, possessing numerous elements key to the classic swash-buckling genre, not least a large dose of 'Treasure Island'.  There's a lost treasure, pirate robots, characters with mysterious pasts and what amount to space sharks.  Basically, if you like Errol Flynn movies, you should like this book.

There are three downsides here, however.  The first is simply that its adventure story styling means that it's actually not terribly deep or complex.  The second downside is that Richards doesn't give us any strong characterisation of the Doctor or Rose, so the book reads as if they could just as easily be the Seventh Doctor and Ace or the Eleventh Doctor and Amy and so on and so forth.  Tennant's portrayal of the character was so iconic that I felt it was a real shame that it doesn't come across in the text here.  The final downside to this book was that of the numerous plot twists and revelations, there were none that I hadn't figured out ahead of time.  And not because I'm a genius or Richards subtly foreshadowed them, but simply because they were glaring obvious.

3 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: The Scruffy Piper

Originally part of the 'Time Lord Fairy Tales' anthology, this short story was produced as a bound book for the special slipcase edition.  Inspired by the story of the Pied Piper, it features the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) as he attempts to save Space Station Hamlyn from an infestation of Cybermats.

Whilst the writing of the this story is fairly unsophisticated, don't be fooled into thinking it's purely written for children, since it's a perfectly enjoyable short Doctor Who adventure.  Really, what sets it apart though is the Doctor himself, whose whimsical second incarnation is done great justice and who remains a favourite of mine.  It also certainly doesn't hurt to have that particular Doctor trying to thwart the Cybermen since it was during his tenure that those villains really became iconic.

4 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: The Three Brothers Gruff

Originally part of the 'Time Lord Fairy Tales' anthology, this short story was produced as a bound book for the special slipcase edition.  Here three brothers have to use their strength, bravery and intelligence to overcome a Sontaran scout who tests them as a prelude to invasion.

This book is clearly inspired by the Three Billy Goats Gruff, but beyond their being three protagonists and a troll-like antagonist, there aren't that many parallels.  Although I was glad to see another Time Lord Fairy Tale featuring the Sontarans, I can't claim to have found this one particularly interesting.

2 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: The Three Little Sontarans

Originally part of the 'Time Lord Fairy Tales' anthology, this short story was produced as a bound book for the special slipcase edition.  The last three survivors in a battle of their eternal struggle against the Rutans, the titular Sontaran warriors each try a different tactic to ambush the final remaining enemy combatant in this story inspired by the Three Little Pigs.

The parallels with the original fairy tale are far stronger in this book than in some of the others of the series as the first Sontaran makes an ambush of site of sticks and leaves, the second builds a stockade of wood and the third prepares a building of concrete.  Unfortunately this close adherence to the familiar children's story means that there are no surprises in this short book and, sadly, there's no Doctor either.  The final downside is that this story also lacks the belligerent humour that has come to characterise the Sontarans in the TV series.  I know some fans aren't happy with the new humorous Sontarans, but I think it's great (let the Daleks and the Cybermen be the serious ones).

2 out of 5

 

Doctor Who: The Twins In The Wood

Originally part of the 'Time Lord Fairy Tales' anthology, this short story was produced as a bound book for the special slipcase edition.  The twin children of the Emperor of Levithia are blamed for his murder and sentenced to death.  The execution goes awry, however, and they find themselves having to survive deep in a forest on an alien world.

Sadly there is nothing interesting or original about this particular Time Lord Fairy Tale and it reads as bland and derivative.  Since other books of this series have proved that they can be great ('The Garden of Statues' and 'The Scruffy Piper' in particular), there's no excuse for how unremarkable this book is.  Even it's links to the Doctor Who universe are so inconsequential as to barely qualify as part of the franchise.  Sure, the majority of it takes place on Gallifrey, but you could swapped out the names of the cities mentioned and changed the colour of the sky and it could've been anywhere else.

2 out of 5

Collaborations & Anthologies:

Doctor Who: Heroes And Monsters Collection (here)

Doctor Who: Short Trips - Dalek Empire (here)

Read more...

Doctor Who (here)