Well, I did make it to 10 books by the end of June, but then I went through what I think is termed "a fallow period".
Not quite sure what has happened to my reading mojo; I completed Inversions and being the first Iain M. Banks book I have read for a long while, and having rather enjoyed it, I went straight on to Surface Detail, which is a very different book - though still enjoyable - but I just ground. to. a. halt...
Then, a couple of weeks back the following popped up in the Kindle Deal of the Day, and I just finished it tonight...
Doctor Who: At Childhood's End
By Sophie Aldred
Once upon a time, there was a girl who travelled through time and space in a blue box with an impossibly old man, but one day they parted and went their separate ways in less than cheery circumstances. Many years later, the girl now grown, met up with an impossibly young woman, who claimed to have once been an impossibly old man...
Side note: I'm beginning to think this whole COVID situation is starting to drive me crackers...
So, a Doctor Who book written by Sophie Aldred about an older Ace (her companion character in the late 90's, for those who don't know) meeting up with the current Jodie Whittaker incarnation of the Doctor. I loved Ace when I was growing up; she was strong, feisty and pretty damn hot - she also famously took out a Dalek with a baseball bat! Her pairing with Sylvester McCoy's Doctor worked wonderfully well, and following on from one of the less successful periods in the show's history they started to turn it around and do the kind of character development with Ace that wouldn't look out of place in the new series. It was therefore disappointing that in 1989 the BBC pulled the plug on the show and we never got a third series with Ace and - crucially for this book - no departure story.
Scroll on 30 years and now that tale can be told, and I'm sorry to say its a little disappointing itself.
McCoy's Doctor - again, for those not watching at the time - had a tendency to be rather manipulative when it came to those around him, and that character trait is used as the reason for Ace's departure from the TARDIS. Whilst the reason's for Ace's departure are utterly plausible, I can't help being a little sad that is how one of my favourite pairings in the show came to an end.
But that isn't the end of the story, it's just the beginning!
Ace (or to use her real name, Dorothy McShane) is now the successful CEO of a global charity* that is trying to save the planet, but that's just the day job; in her spare time, she's a cross between James Bond (fast cars and secret lairs) and Marie Curie (if the latter had been into explosives, rather than slowly poisoning herself). Teenagers are going missing from the streets of London, and Ace is on the case, but chasing a thread from the other end of the story, so are the Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz. To be honest, it's a bit of a convoluted plot, and one that makes use of one of the less impressive elements of Ace's backstory (and one that already had an explanation to boot!) but that's all fluff; if you are reading this book, it is probably to catch up with Ace and to see how she interacts with a different, female Doctor.
The former largely works; Ace being in charge and distant from the people in her life is very believable (and draws an interesting parallel with her former mentor) but for all the good she seems to be doing in the world, she doesn't seem to have been able to move on from her travels with the Doctor. The Doctor, on the other hand, has certainly moved on and the two characters together make an interesting pairing, but not one that is really explored very deeply in this book (without giving anything away, the end of the book is rather abrupt, and it feels as though it is missing some wrap up scenes, especially one that I felt was needed between Ace and Yaz).
Overall, there is quite a bit here to like, and there is a good hit of nostalgia for the older fans, but the story itself is rather weak and after the initial, interesting mystery, it devolves into a rather run of the mill resolution. If you are not a fan of Ace, or the current incarnation of Doctor Who, then it's probably not one for you. For my own part, I think it just misses the mark (I don't normally give books ratings out of five, but if I did this would be a solid three).
Entertaining enough, but definitely one of the fans.
Oh, and if Big Finish don't end up spinning off a series of audio adventures from this, I will eat my baseball bat.
*A Charitable Earth, geddit? - you can thank Russell T Davis for that one...