Monday 4 January 2016

Review: Doctor Who Time Lord Fairy Tales by Justin Richards

A stunning illustrated collection of fifteen dark and ancient fairy tales from the world of Doctor Who.

These captivating stories include mysterious myths and legends about heroes and monsters of all kinds, from every corner of the universe. Originally told to young Time Lords at bedtime, these twisted tales are an enchanting read for Doctor Who fans of all ages.

I am a lifelong fan of Doctor Who and as a child/young teen I spent may an hour reading as many of the Target novelisations as I could get my hands on (as ever, the local library did not let me down). However, somewhere along the way I stopped reading Doctor Who fiction - I wonder whether it was due to the sheer volume of books that were being published, especially after the show was cancelled by the BBC back in 1989 and writers/published filled the gap with New Adventures and Missing Adventures. I intend to remedy this in 2016 as a friend has recently recommended two books that I really like the sound of: Harvest of Time by Alastair Reynolds and The Wheel of Ice by Stephen Baxter.

But I am getting ahead of myself. A couple of months ago I had a lovely surprise package in the post, courtesy of those lovely people at Puffin. Said package included a copy of Doctor Who: The Dangerous Book of Monsters (devoured in a single sitting btw), and Doctor Who: Time Lord Fairy Tales. It was the latter of the two that really piqued my interest - it is an anthology of fairy tales, each of which has a Doctor Who twist. Most of the classic tales they are based on are instantly recognisable (including Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Three Little Pigs, Three Billy Goats Gruff and many more) but writer Justin Richards has very cleverly twisted them around to make them tales that just might be told to Gallifreyan kids.

I have to be honest, it took me a couple of stories to really get into the book, as it was aimed at a younger audience than I had originally presumed, and the tone of the stories is most definitely fairy-tale-ish in nature. However, once I had got my head around this I found myself really enjoying most of the tales. A number of the stories do not even feature the Doctor himself (and even when he appears it is usually little more than a cameo role to help save the day), but many of the classic Whovian monsters are there in one form or another, including Sontarans, Cybermen and Weeping Angels and some of the less well known to modern viewers, such as the Nimon and the Wirrn. 

Each story comes with its own wonderful illustration by David Wardle, all produced in a classic wood block printing style that perfectly matches the fairy tale theme of the book. Adult readers may recognise the style from the cover of Essie Fox's The Somnambulist, which Wardle also created.

For those of you who love audio books, a little googling has revealed that all of these tales are available to purchase as downloads from iTunes and Amazon, read by the likes of Paul McGann, Michelle Gomez, Sophie Aldred and even Tom Baker. I'm not a big fan of audio books (I have attention span problems), but these sound cracking so I might have to have a listen in the future. It also looks like there is a planned CD release for April, for those of you who prefer a physical copy.

Time Lord Fairy Tales is great fun and deserves a place on the shelves of any fan of Doctor Who, young or old. It has certainly whetted my appetite for more Doctor Who fiction, so if any of you have any recommendations they would be very gratefully received.


  1. Ooh, Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter? Writing Doctor Who stories! Wow! Sounds as if they've had a good think about this and maybe learned something from the Star Trek and Star Wars books of the past, also written by well known writers.

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