Review: Doctor Who - The Magic of the Angels / Written by: Jacqueline Rayner / Published by: BBC Books / Quick Reads / Release Date: Out Now
The ‘Quick Reads’ book initiative is intended to appeal to audiences daunted by the prospect of tackling a full-length novel, readers who have just fallen out of the habit of reading or even new readers just discovering the joys of literature. Short, punchy, easy-to-read stories, many of them written by popular authors like Alexander McCall Smith, Ian Rankin, Matthew Reilly, Maeve Binchy and others literally too numerous (and, in the case of Kerry Katona, too stupid) to mention. The range kicked off in 2006 and, with Doctor Who still a hot ’new’ TV property at the time, it’s hardly surprising that the show was enlisted as one of the front-runners for the new range. A string of ‘quick read’ Doctor Who's has since appeared, always featuring established monsters from the show - the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Judoon, the Sontarans and the Krillitanes have appeared in past titles - and the latest book, written by Jacqueline Rayner, features a return appearance by probably the greatest new alien from the rebooted Doctor Who series as Steven Moffat’s Weeping Angels return in Magic of the Angels.
Rayner’s book deposits the Doctor, Amy and Rory in the one place show runner Moffat seems keen to avoid in the TV show - contemporary Earth, London in particular - and discover one of the Weeping Angels being used as a ‘prop’ by a cheesy stage magician who causes gullible homeless girls to literally ‘disappear’, zapped back in Time by the power of the Angels, in the finale to his stage show. With the help of two old ladies from a local care home, the Doctor confronts Sammy Star (seriously) and battles to stop the image of the Angel being transmitted all over the country via a television broadcast.
Rayner’s text reads like a very simple children’s story but we have to remember that the ‘Quick Reads’ series is aimed at inexperienced readers of all ages so there’s not likely to be anything hugely complicated or challenging on the agenda. But Magic of the Angels, within the parameters it has to be written to, is a decent little story. The Doctor, Amy and Rory are captured with all the flippancy of their TV personas - there’s some witty banter between the three as they attempt to see the sights of London, the Doctor in his plastic bowler hat and T-shirt getting them flung off tour buses as he corrects the historical inaccuracies of the tour guides or escorted out of St Paul‘s for bad behaviour (“we got thrown out of the Whispering Gallery for shouting” observes Rory at one point).
Magic of the Angels works a couple of interesting time travel paradoxes into its storyline, there are a few nice digs at reality show judges and contestants and the plot chugs along affably enough although I’m beginning to think that we’ve probably seen enough of one-trick pony baddies the Weeping Angels by now. Sit down with a nice hot cuppa and a fairy cake (other cakes are available) and you’ll have a decent time flying through the 100-odd pages of Magic of the Angels before your tea gets cold.