Review: Doctor Who: Books: The Secret Lives of Monsters

Secret lives of monstersBy Justin Richards

BBC Books, out now

An investigation into sixteen of the Doctor’s greatest foes.

Fans of the classic series got The Doctor Who Monster Book (and its brilliantly titled sequel shortly thereafter), and that was pretty much it. Nowadays, it seems as if barely a year goes by without some sort of compendium of the creatures who have crossed the Doctor’s path – so is there something new to be done with the topic?

The answer is a resounding yes. Justin Richards has followed a similar template to last year’s The Doctor: His Lives and Times, and given us a selection of “source material” about the various creatures. They range from the minutes that Councillor Mogran prepared after his meeting with Davros to the FBI alert for River, Amy and Rory issued in 1969, sometimes reworking material directly from the scripts, other times extrapolating logically to fill in a gap.

Perhaps unusually for this sort of book – and maybe this is in response to Night of the Doctor’s confirmation of the official standing of the Big Finish stories – there is recognition of some of the non-transmitted material (Sir Toby Kinsella is mentioned, a name familiar to those who’ve listened to Counter Measures). Classic and nu-Who tales are given equal weight, with the occasional inspired piece of explanation given for the differences between the two (look at the Ice Warrior section).

The design by Amazing 15 pushes a lot of material onto each spread without it ever feeling cramped, and good use is made of Peter McKinstry’s original illustrations. Some pictures we’ve seen many times before have been treated in Photoshop – although is there really no other shot of that troll doll from Terror of the Autons? It’s the only screen capture that looks wrong. There’s also a brief “real world” section on each monster, recapping some essential information but not really breaking new ground.

Verdict: A terrific companion to last year’s great book and I hope that the trilogy will be completed with a look at the companions next year! 10/10

Paul Simpson

 

Click here to order Doctor Who: The Secret Lives of Monsters from Amazon.co.uk

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