This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

08 May, 2014


Cover by Two Associates/Woodlands Books


ISBN: 978-1-44814-237-8
 Pages: 33
Publisher: BBC Books/Ebury Publishing
Published: 8 May 2014

On the cover:
(From the publisher's website.)

Arriving on the planet Cashel, the Tenth Doctor witnesses a strange masked ball. To guarantee peace, Prince Zircon has to choose a bride from the Bog People – dead men and women who have been resurrected as slaves. Or as warriors. But Zircon is in love with the enslaved Princess Ash, whose parents were deposed and executed by the current Queen. As usual, the Doctor has walked right into trouble, and it's up to him to sort it out.

   I am a big fan of Doctor Who. I am also a big fan of Fairy Tales, both traditional and modern. This story satisfies my enjoyment of both of those things.
   No attempt is made here to hide that this is inspired by Fairy Tales. There are lots of small details, and some larger plotpoints, that are clearly taken straight out of the Fairy Tales that have been adapted by Disney. If you have read a bit of Fairy Tales, you can have fun spotting where the influence comes from.
   That is not meant to suggest that this is unoriginal, or just a straight retelling, it is far from either of those. There are some delicious twists on what you'd expect from a Fairy Tale, and this story definitely takes its own paths.

   This is not a long story by any means, but Ahern has still managed to get some complexity into it. She is showing she is very good at tight plotting, there is nothing here that is wasted. What is here though is a story that feels like it should take up more pages than it actually does. It is actually bigger on the inside. (Sorry for the pun...)
   The structure is pretty classic Doctor Who. The Doctor arrives at a planet, notices something strange, and meddles. But it doesn't feel like this is something that have been done many times before.
   The way Ahern draws us into the events at the same time as The Doctor works very well. We get to discover what is going on with The Doctor. There is a feeling that we are there with him, even though we don't have a companion that can take our place in the story. Some of this is because the Fairy Tale setting is so familiar. I think everyone will be aware of at least some of the references made. But the most important element that pulls the reader in is Ahern's writing. She gets us on an intimate footing with the characters, and that she does it by playing on familiar emotional tropes does not detract from how well she does it.

   As mentioned above there is some interesting twists to the familiar in this story. A big one has to do with the nature of some of the characters. I really liked that, it is an excellent twist and it makes for a much more complex world than the black & white that some Fairy Tale retellings descend into.
   There is plenty of tension here, it's not a given that the story turns out the way it does. The pacing is also on the faster side of things, which is good when the story is this short. There are no unnecessary breaks here, and this is definitely something to read in one go. It would be hard not to.

   I found this to be really enjoyable. It has absolutely everything you could want from a Fairy Tale, and it is a great Doctor Who story. Ahern is without doubt a very good writer, and she tells a tale that I don't hesitate to call essential for anyone who enjoys a good Fairy Tale retelling. There is also plenty to enjoy here for the Doctor Who fan who wants a strong standalone story with the Tenth Doctor.
   This is simply an excellent Fairy Tale and Doctor Who crossover.

NOTE: I got an e-ARC of this from the publisher/NetGalley.

REVIEWS: You can find a full list of my Doctor Who reviews here. (Including the first five Time Trips stories.)

LINKS: Cecelia Ahern   Ebury Publishing

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