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Book Review - Doctor Who: Time Lord Fairy Tales by Justin Richards

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Doctor Who: Time Lord Fairy Tales written by Justin Richards, illustrated by David Wardle

The short story is so hot right now. There are a million anthologies on the market that are being consumed at a growing rate. What is the appeal of the short story? Is it the instant reward – the sense of achievement for those of us short on time wanting to devour creativity in bursts? Is it the closure we get without having to wait weeks (or in my case months) to know what happens at the end of the book?

I bought this anthology of Doctor Who short stories for myself, with dreams of curling up in a quiet corner on a frosty morning, while the boys were out at footy. But eight-year old Junior snatched it from its opened packaging, before I could even flick through the contents page. I sobbed into the crumpled cardboard, as he declared he had a ‘grown up’ book to read.  Children have a burning desire to read above and beyond their current level. Herein lies the attraction of short stories for children. Short stories can introduce complex plot and character webs without being convoluted. They are the perfect introduction to the tangled layers of storytelling found in chunkier novels.

The Doctor Who stories in this anthology have, mostly, been produced into the television series so may be familiar to readers. The book cover text has a ‘ye olde’ look but with a modern, beautifully etched diorama of cyborgs, monsters and space ships. The stories are twists on fairy tales or folklore with something slightly sinister about them. Not all of the stories have Doctor Who heroically appear, but he does swoop in and out in various tales, adding to the plot twists and surprises. Overall, this collection of tales bridges gaps in family age groups and makes fun reading at bed time. Most stories are not too scary for junior fiction readers (Grade Two plus). Although I did have to turn some of Junior’s toys to face the wall after reading the twisted tale of The Garden of Statues. No-one wants to be turned to stone, now do they….