Puffin, out now
The Doctor gives you his inimitable guide to some of the deadliest creatures that have crossed his path…
Last year Penguin brought us How to be a Time Lord, a guide to the Doctor’s race, which included the Doctor’s own guide on How to be the Doctor, told in the 11th Doctor’s own words. The logical follow-up is this terrific guide to the creatures of the universe – but this time the voice is that of the 12th Doctor, who’s perhaps not necessarily the most comforting of companions!
The order of entries initially appears random, but if you look at the index, you realise that there are certain classifications – starting, obviously, with Daleks and moving on to other mechanically-aided creatures (via the Fog Shark, which is presumably linked to the weird and wonderful beings brought to life in the Time War!), thence to horror icons (the Dream Crabs, the various Mummy-inspired creatures, vampires etc.), on to animal-based lifeforms (Cat Nuns, Vespiform and the rest) before we reach the Cybermen… You get the idea. There’s one entry that is either one hell of a spoiler for the rest of series 9, or a nice in-joke (I’m betting on the latter).
Unlike Richards’ The Secret Lives of Monsters, this stays completely in-universe, illustrated with a combination of familiar photos, and beautifully rendered drawings by Dan Green (I love the Death in Heaven shot of the Cybermen at St Paul’s). There are useful bits of information regarding size, relative speed and danger ratings of the creatures – a do-it-yourself Top Trumps, basically – and with a mix of classic and new series (ten entries for creatures that haven’t made it so far into the 21st century show), it’s a fun lookback at the last 52 years…
Verdict: Yet another different spin on the Doctor Who Monster Book idea that works well. 9/10