BooksDoctor Who

At Childhood’s End by Sophie Aldred with Steve Cole and Mike Tucker (book review).

Ace is gone and Dorothy is home again. She’s rejected the technicolour world of Oz and her travelling days are done. These days Dorothy McShane is a reclusive millionaire philanthropist running a charity called A Charitable Earth. She’s fine, she’s alone and she’s not fine. The nightmares every night might be a clue that something’s wrong. There have been a string of disappearances in London but, as they’re homeless teenagers, nobody cares.

When the alien satellite appears above the Earth, it seems that Ace might be stepping up again after all. With the arrival of the Doctor, it looks like the team is getting back together. There’s an unspoken history there though, a sense that things did not end well with them. Ace remembers; the Doctor might have a new face but has she got the same agenda?

With fast cars, gadgets and alien tech we are definitely firmly in the 13th Whittaker Doctor era. There’s a bit of a possibly coincidental crossover with ‘Spyfall’. The story runs smoothly adding in some supporting and a fine attempt to use all those companions in a worthwhile way. It’s particularly clever plot relates Ace back to her time with the 7th Doctor and their prickly relationship. It has a Big Finish vibe with the expanded characteristics of the companion who left to grow up.

The use of the mature Ace is very good and her voice is evident throughout the narrative. It doesn’t flinch from issues that Ace had with the 7th Doctor. It may lead younger readers to explore those Ace adventures for more detail and I heartily recommend the audio adventures which really digs into it with some cracking examples.

I know I always say this but this really would make a superb spin-off TV movie with the sticky relationships of retired Doctor companions. The co-authors here are Steve Cole and Mike Tucker who have considerable form in stories and audios. This is an excellent and as ever an explosive return of Ace.

Sue Davies

May 2020

(pub: BBC Books/Ebury, 2020. 304 page hardback. Price: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78594-499-4)

check out website: www.eburypublishing.co.uk

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