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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Doctor Who. Time Lord Fairy Tales. Justin Richards (Writer), David Wardle (Art), Adam Linley (Drop Capitals) Puffin Books (2015)

A very enjoyable collection of classic fairy tales set in a science fiction, specifically Doctor Who, context.
Justin Richards has done a great job of being true to the stories while doing more than just giving them a new coat of paint. While the overall standard is very good there are a number of stand outs that just get the new mix exactly right.
Cinderella and the Magic Box manages to insert the TARDIS, cast Doctor Who as a fairy godmother with a wonderful explanation for the glass slipper and a very smart twist on the midnight rule for Cinderella.
The Three Little Sontarans is clever and engaging, the villain is satisfactorily tough and smart, a real problem for the third Sontarans.
Snow White and the Seven Keys to Doomsday juggles the familiar elements with clever details that make for a sharp story.
The Grief Collector is the stand out story in the collection, it does what fairy tales all do, it presents a horrifying idea quietly and directly, there is love and courage and a suitably grim end for the villain.
Justin Richards has not shied away from the sharp edges that fairy stories all have, they are still present and shown off to the great effect in the new context. The use of Doctor Who is are carefully rationed, he is a player in the stories not the central character, prior knowledge is fun but not necessary. These stories stand very strongly on their own considerable merits.
The  black and white illustrations by David Wardle have the look if woodcuts, they capture perfectly the history of the stories while their content is clearly science fiction.
The ornate drop capitals that open each story are a pleasure, a smart nod to an old fashioned style that are decorative and set the mood.
This book has accomplished a very difficult task, the fairy tale style is played up with the art and the stories leap effortlessly into a far future context that shows how strong these stories are. A great read for nostalgic pleasure and a delight in seeing such craft and talent.

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