Doctor Who Tales of Terror – review

I received this book for Christmas and just recently finished it, so I wanted to write up a review.

This book is a collection of 12 Halloween-themed stories – one for each Doctor (this was published before the 13th’s time). I was surprised to find out that it’s more of a children’s book, but the stories were so well done I can’t see why adults would enjoy them as well. I’ll include a short synopsis and possibly some things I liked about each story. There are also illustrations throughout, one for each story. They usually depict either the Doctor and his companions, or some supporting characters.

  1. Murder in the Dark: This one features the 1st Doctor, Steven and Dodo encountering a spooky house that seems to be all decked out for a Halloween party. Inside there are kids all dressed up in Halloween costumes playing various games. Steven and Dodo end up getting involved, however the games soon turn deadly. I won’t give much away, but it turns out that the Celestial Toymaker is involved, challenging them to one more game.

2. Something at the Door: This story involves the 2nd Doctor, Ben, Polly and Jamie. It seems to take place right after Jamie joins them in the TARDIS after The Highlanders. Ben and Polly are giving him a tour of the TARDIS when they happen upon a strange room they’ve never seen before. Inside they find a Ouija board and Polly insists on playing with it, much to the consternation of both Ben and Jamie. They take it into the actual control room and play with it. All hell breaks loose (upsetting the Doctor of course) and they destroy the board, but it’s not over yet. Someone ends up possessed by an evil being lurking out in the time vortex. That’s about all I’ll say.

3. The Monster in the Woods: This story features the 3rd Doctor and Jo. It centers mainly on three young siblings who have met a “friend” which they call Starman in the woods and have brought him different objects as gifts. Starman turns out to be an injured Dalek who had long ago crash landed in the area, and needs the “gifts” as parts for his recovery. The Doctor and Jo soon get involved and the Doctor decides to take the Dalek back to UNIT HQ to help. Things don’t go exactly as planned, however.

4. Toil and Trouble: This one involves the 4th Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry. As the name might suggest, it features a race of aliens who take on the form of three old hags who have Sarah Jane under their control, having a voodoo doll of her and all. It all starts when she is exploring one of the rooms on the TARDIS, going through souvenirs the Doctor had collected. The Doctor and Harry realize something is wrong and try to save her. Not only that but they’re also dealing with some reapers lurking in the Time Vortex.

5. Mark of the Medusa: This story features the 5th Doctor, Tegan and Turlough. Kamelion also features. They visit a space station, home to a friend of the Doctor’s who invites them to a party he’s hosting. The space station also houses a huge museum, with works of art and artifacts which were stolen from various periods of history on Earth. Someone sinister ends up on the loose inside, and you can probably guess from the title what it is. There seems to be a throwback to Tegan’s ordeal in Kinda and Snakedance, although it turns out she’s not the one controlling Medusa. I won’t reveal exactly who actually is, but it’s pretty interesting.

6. Trick or Treat: This one involves the 6th Doctor, no companions. He’s visited in the TARDIS by a group of young boys wearing Halloween costumes, going trick or treating. It turns out these boys seem a bit familiar in a very creative way. I won’t give it away, but one thing I did enjoy was the way they played off the 6th Doctor – barbs traded and all. The author who wrote this one had also written the first story, and the two are tied together very neatly… it’s almost as if this one is a sequel. I enjoyed the way she had done this.

7. Living Image: This one involves the 7th Doctor and Ace. They land in London during the 19th century and meet a painter who is haunted by his mother’s death, her spirit literally “nagging” him as he attempts to paint. It turns out supernatural entities are impersonating his mother, feeding off his grief and demanding him to keep painting. It gets worse as they try to come through his canvas, which has literally become a portal.

8. Organism 96: This story features the 8th Doctor with no companions, however there is a young lady featuring heavily in it who could almost be considered a companion. It takes place on a cruise ship where a mysterious passenger has been rescued and taken aboard. The passenger is an innocent looking old lady who seems pleasant enough. She charms many of the other passengers. Shortly thereafter, strange deaths begin occurring. The Doctor who happens to be a passenger as well realizes something is off with the old lady, but hardly anyone will believe him. I won’t give away what happens, but it’s a very interesting tale.

9. The Patchwork Pierrot: This one involves the 9th Doctor with no companions. It takes place at a traveling circus in America (Nebraska, to be exact). The Doctor lands here and is excited to check it out. He meets several young employees who mention seeing a creepy figure called a Pierrot – basically a doll with no face – stalking the grounds at night. The Doctor and Mona – one of the young workers – end up spotting it one night and getting into a tussle. The thing takes Mona hostage. The Doctor finds them and it turns out this thing is a familiar old foe of his – I wont give away which one. 🙂

10. Blood Will Out: This story features the 10th Doctor and Donna. It’s a creepy tale involving monsters known as The Family of Blood trying to break through mirrors in a fun house mirror maze. It turns out the Doctor has a bit of history with this “family”, so you can imagine they would be out for revenge. I won’t say much more except that the Doctor and Donna end up chained in a dark tunnel. All seems lost until the Doctor “Houdini’s” himself out of it and takes on this group of monsters, finally banishing them. Very dark and interesting tale.

11. The Mist of Sorrow: This one features the 11th Doctor. He doesn’t feature too prominently here. It mainly centers on a family (parents and three kids) on holiday driving in their car only to stumble upon a huge gathering of weeping angels and a strange mist. They’re pretty much held hostage by the angels until their radio crackles to life, and a voice gives them instructions on how to beat them. The voice is, you would imagine, the Doctor’s. They do make it out and the family gets to check out the Doctor’s TARDIS (much to the excitement of one of the boys, who seems to be a budding Doctor fanboy).

12. Baby Sleepy Face: This story features the 12th Doctor with no companions. In a bit of a throwback to the 3rd Doctor’s era, the Autons are back and causing trouble in a factory making dolls. The main characters here are a young set of twins, a boy and girl, whose father had worked at this factory earlier. They decide to check it out one night and are in for more than they’d ever thought possible. The Doctor shows up to help save the day.

To sum up, this was a really nice collection of stories. I can’t say I enjoyed any one author over the others. They all seemed to portray the characters we’re so familiar with quite well. In particular I liked the characterization of the 1st Doctor, the 2nd Doctor’s companions, the 6th Doctor and the 12th. In fact the 12th had some great lines that I could just hear Peter Capaldi saying. There’s a scene where he has a showdown with a giant doll, who announces “I’m Baby Sleepy Face.” The Doctor retorts “Yeah? Well I’m Doctor Angry Face,” just before he slams the TARDIS doors shut. It was very well done. Again, I wasn’t expecting this to be a children’s book, but it was written in such a way that I think all ages could appreciate it.

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