Author Jenny T. Colgan has a lot of crossover popularity, thanks to her works in genres as diverse as romantic fiction and sci-fi. To cash in on her success, BBC Books has packaged together the short stories the author has written set in the Doctor Who universe. The result is The Triple Knife and Other Stories.
The collection kicks off with its title story - and probably its strongest. In The Triple Knife, Colgan details the most emotional moment in the immortal life of Ashildr, as played by Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams in season nine. In Medieval England, the former Viking girl attempts to protect her children from the horrors of the plague. It’s a traumatising tale that’s in many ways one of the darkest Doctor Who stories you’ll find anywhere.
Actually, that’s something that runs through Colgan’s writing in this anthology. Though she can throw in the whimsy and excitement like the best of Who writers, Colgan often laces her tales from the TARDIS with an emotional, sombre undercurrent. Into the Nowhere, for instance, sees the Eleventh Doctor and Clara visit a world with no name that doesn’t appear on any readings. There’s a fairy tale quality to the story which is bold enough to leave things ambiguous.
Picnic at Asgard is another highlight of the collection. As fans who know their stuff might be able to deduce from the title, it finally reveals what happens when the Doctor and River have their fabled picnic, as first referenced in TV story Silence in the Library. It’s a fun adventure about a Westworld-esque theme park gone amok, but the real heart of it is River’s secret desire to have a child with her Time Lord hubbie.
The Triple Knife is rounded out with two shorter pieces both starring the Twelfth Doctor and Clara. All the Empty Towers is an ecological story set in a near-future version of Blackpool that has turned into an overgrown jungle. Meanwhile, A Long Way Down is a smart, Moffat-like story in which Clara saves the Doctor from falling to his death in a time-wimey way.
Hoarders with a full collection of Doctor Who novels might have these stories in various anthologies already, but The Triple Knife is still a worthy purchase as it showcases a talented author’s unique, female-led take on the Whoniverse. Here’s hoping Colgan gets to write for Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor soon.
DOCTOR WHO - THE TRIPLE KNIFE AND OTHER STORIES / AUTHOR: JENNY T. COLGAN / PUBLISHER: BBC BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: JULY 19TH