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Welcome to the News & Reviews section here at Doctor Who Online! This is where you will find all the latest Doctor Who related news and reviews split up into easy to use sections - each section is colour coded for your convenience. The latest items can be found at the top, and older items follow down the page.

Archived news and reviews can be accessed by clicking on the relevant area on the News / Reviews Key panels to the right.

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23 September 2020

Following on from the summer’s B&M release, Character Options is delighted to announce a brand new wave of Doctor Who action figure sets for Autumn 2020. The new collection will be available in the UK on shelf in B&M Stores from early October. Sales in the US will begin mid-October via The Official North America Doctor Who Store, and Amazon.

This exciting launch will introduce six brand new Action Figure Sets - an all new look for the Friends of the Thirteenth Doctor set, a new Companions of the Third and Fourth Doctors set, a very special U.N.I.T set, plus a Fifth Doctor & TARDIS set. Rounding up the release will be two more History of the Daleks Sets which chart their chronological TV appearances.

Each and every set of this detailed series will include highly detailed 5.5 inch scale figures featuring multiple points of articulation and come presented in the now well established ‘classic’ Doctor Who packaging.

The sets in detail

The Companions of the Third & Fourth Doctor set features new figures of Sarah and Romana 1 and 2 and spans the dates April 1974 to December 1979. This set includes Sarah Jane Smith in her outfit from 1974’s ‘Monster of Peladon’ story, Romana 1 in her outfit from December 1978’s ‘The Power of Kroll’ story and Romana 2 in her red outfit from the story ‘The Horns of Nimon’.

Staying with the ‘companion’ theme, is the Friends of the Thirteenth Doctor set with updated figures of companions Yasmin (Yaz) Khan, Graham O'Brien and Ryan Sinclair. These, most recent companions all feature in a brand new set of outfits inspired by their onscreen adventures.

For many collectors, the arrival of the 1971 U.N.I.T Claws of Axos Set can’t be bettered but with the addition of the 1975 U.N.I.T Terror of the Zygons Set, Character Options has added what is possibly the most anticipated and eagerly awaited variant of the Fourth Doctor to the mix; decked out in his fetching tartan scarf and Tamm ‘O’ Shanter hat. The set is completed by the addition of Sergeant John Benton, this time in camouflage fatigues and an additional U.N.I.T trooper, both with Sterling SMG machine guns as seen in the timeless 1975 story battling the shape shifting Zygons.

Next up is the updated release of the Fifth Doctor and TARDIS Set featuring detailing from February 1982’s ‘The Visitation’. The set comprises a crisp moulding of the Fifth Doctor with his floppy hat, while the TARDIS comes in a pristine blue livery.

Finally, Character Options is to release the next two History of the Daleks Sets.

“The Daleks’ Collector Set Number 3 comprises of a Twin Dalek Set and features the Daleks as seen fully in in 1965’s ‘The Chase’. This set features one of the ‘guest’ Daleks brought in from the Doctor Who and the Daleks film which appear in the Dalek Control room sequences of Episode 3 and one of the Standard silver drone Daleks.

Additionally, “The Daleks’ Collector Set Number 4 features two Daleks as seen in 'The Dalek's Master Plan' from 1966. This set features the attractive Black Dalek with Grey shoulders, a silver neck bin and silver solar struts alongside one of the Silver Drones seen in the jungle sequences clearing foliage with a flame

Al Dewar, Character Options’ Creative Director, said:

“This is another first for the Doctor Who line and good news for the fans in what has been a difficult year. We are delighted therefore to announce this full second wave of figures being released which has comes in addition to our recent Internet exclusive.

We were determined to give the fans something exciting and again hopefully we have genuinely surprised them with the new additions that have been coupled with some of our previous released figures. The inclusion of a new Fourth Doctor, Sarah and Romana 1 will hopefully surprise everyone in what is an astounding number of new figures this year and hopefully we will continue to exceed the expectations of fans and collectors alike.”

+  All sets will be available from B&M Stores from 5th October. RRP will be around £19.99 each.

[Source: Character Options]

22 September 2020

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Dan Abnett & Guy Adams

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: August 2020

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


Thin Time by Dan Abnett

"Hallowe’en, 1892. Celebrated novelist Charles Crookshap claims to have been receiving time communiqués, promising secrets that could change the world forever. But when the TARDIS interrupts the household’s evening, the Doctor realises he isn’t the only alien interloper in London."

Madquake by Guy Adams

"Abandoned on the planet Callanna, Nyssa, Tegan and Marc take advantage of its therapeutic atmosphere to come to terms with recent events; but others seek to take advantage too. The Slitheen are on their way – and they’re ready to sell this world to the highest bidder!"

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers. You have been warned!

Thin Time
By Dan Abnett

After last month’s 4x4 outing, this month we get one of Big Finish’s occasional dips into shorter stories. Comprising two, two-part tales, we pick up where Conversion (and presumably all of Time Apart) left off with Thin Time by Dan Abnett. It’s been a long time since Abnett was in the fold and on the strength of some of this play, I hope he’s back again before too long.

The Doctor lands in London on Hallowe’en, but much to his surprise he’s been expected. Pretty soon, the household in which he’s arrived is in trouble with a terrible something from outside, which is using visions and visages to tempt people. It’s a ghost story, in some ways, but one told with real flair and tension. Peter Davison sounds energised by the script and he’s supported by a very good supporting cast.

Sadly, it’s not perfect. The opening is fairly clunky with its exposition and scene setting, and the resolution is less drama and more the Doctor explaining what is going on to an attentive audience, which is never especially satisfying. You just wonder why the monster hasn’t eaten someone mid-sentence and instead just stands there patiently.

And then we’ve the final scene where (spoilers) the Fifth Doctor meets up with the Eleventh Doctor. Jacob Dudman is often celebrated in fan circles for his pitch-perfect impressions, but I’ll freely confess that it took me a good 30 seconds to realise it was even meant to be the Eleventh Doctor here. It’s not his finest hour by any stretch, but then again it’s a big ask for him to do an impression for so long and try to sustain it. Much like the Chronicles box sets he’s narrated, it doesn’t land.

Neither does the chronology of it all still. I mentioned before that I just don’t buy the Fifth Doctor swanning off to mope; the idea of him abandoning his companions fails to ring true at all: heck, The Caves of Androzani is about a Doctor who won’t ever do such a thing! Frustratingly, the talk here of the Doctor not wanting to endanger his companions does have a potential spot in established TV continuity which would fit far better: after Tegan has left, disgusted by the violence she has seen. You can buy the Doctor needing time to reflect after that, but not so here. I’m retreading old ground though. Overall, Thin Time isn’t perfect but it has moments that are achingly close.

Madquake
By Guy Adams

And then we have Madquake, a play that in part tackles PTSD and mental illness. But they called it Madquake. Ironic jibe or bad taste? You decide.

The approach to these topics doesn’t feel great at times. The relationship between a therapist and her patient is unlike any I’ve come across (full disclosure, I’ve done therapy many times now) and smells less of authenticity and more of someone wanting to have an excuse to have their characters talk a lot. Dialogue is largely less natural and more ‘we need a bit of exposition or character development here’.

This slightly sub-par feel runs through the script overall, sadly. A few scenes in, we have Marc tell us he’s not sure he’ll ever feel again. But he does it while panicking, before getting angry and then crying. It’s not exactly consistent, though later he clarifies that he fears he will never be happy again. The Cybermen seem to have left him with the ability to soliloquise at length about how bad his life is now, in tones that would make college-level amateur dramatic groups take a second pass at the scripts, but also, handily, they’ve also left him with the ability to detect drama: something bad is about to happen, he intones funerally at one point, a handy spidey-sense to have when you’re part of the TARDIS crew.

It’s frustrating as there are a couple of genuinely brilliant moments: Tegan worrying that all she is is anger, and what will happen if she’s robbed of that is heartbreaking, and Nyssa having a backbone and standing up for herself against Tegan is properly triumphant. I just wish the Guy Adams who wrote those moments was the same Guy Adams who wrote the rest.

As for the Slitheen? Well, they're definitely here. Their appearance would have been a genuine surprise had Big Finish not announced their presence beforehand, and it's a shame that didn't come to pass. I've not much else to say about them though, beyond that their defeat is pretty awful. Riffing on the "go to your room!" cliffhanger resolution of The Doctor Dances, this has neither its wit nor its logic or context.

It's funny. For all I didn't like Madquake all that much, what it represents fascinates me. Not too long ago, the mere idea of mixing New Series monsters with Classic Series Doctors was enough to warrant a fanfare and two box sets.  Contrast also the celebration for the first River Song box set, and how the latest series was announced in a paragraph at the bottom of an entirely unrelated piece of news from Big Finish in the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine.

I'm not sure what it represents. Complacency and lack of respect for the material? Indication that repetition means things are less special? Or realisation that despite the bells and whistles, this is all one and the same silly old series (whether we like it or not, to quote the series itself)? Maybe the answer lies somewhere in-between.

As for this arc, one suspects that it'll be some time before we have any answers thanks to the pandemic. We end here though with a conclusion to the arc waiting in the wings. I'm sure many are enjoying it, but I'll be glad to see it gone. But I'm interested all the same in seeing what happens next. Perhaps I'm not as burnt out as I suspected.


+ Thin Time / Madquake is OUT NOW, priced £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


22 September 2020

Penguin Random House have been in touch with details of an exciting new festive Doctor Who book; The Wintertime Paradox by Dave Rudden.

The incredible stories of Doctor Who Christmases past, present and future...

Did you know Davros and the Doctor met for three Christmases, on different planets, across time and space? Have you heard the one about the time the Plasmavores came to pay a festive visit?

This thrilling anthology presents a fantastic collection of adventures through time and space, featuring the best- loved characters and places from the Doctor Who world. The perfect stories for the bleakest - and sometimes brightest - time of the year, these festive, thrilling and often moving tales make the ideal gift for Doctor Who fans and young sci-fi lovers alike.

Dave Rudden is a former actor, teacher and time-displaced Viking currently living in Dublin. He is the author of the award-winning Knights of the Borrowed Dark trilogy, and enjoys cats, adventure and being cruel to fictional children. A lifelong Doctor Who fan, Dave is also author of Twelve Angels Weeping.

+  The Wintertime Paradox is released on 15th October 2020, priced £12.99.
+  PREORDER this title from Amazon.co.uk.
+  Discuss all the Doctor Who Book releases in the DWO Forums.

[Source: Penguin Random House]

21 September 2020

DWO have just added our unboxing and review video for the brand new, Character Options' The Jungles Of Mechanus set.

Please also welcome Matt Chambers to the DWO team as YouTube channel manager and chief reviewer. You can watch the review in the player, below:

+  SUBSCRIBE to the @DrWhoOnline YouTube channel!
+  Follow @DrWhoOnline on Twitter!
+  Follow @WalsallMatt on Twitter

[Source: DWO]

21 September 2020

Hot on the heels of the latest series of Doctor Who, every year fans would travel the length and breadth of the country to visit the TARDIS and defy the Daleks at the Blackpool Doctor Who Exhibition - no other television show had its own permanent exhibition, and this was a chance to get up close and personal!

Blackpool Remembered charts the history of the exhibition, bringing together special memories, stories and photographs from the fans who visited it, as well as documenting the ever-changing exhibits which, like the series itself, regenerated every year to bring new thrills and excitement. Alongside this, are detailed recollections from some of the people who made it happen. 

Travel back in time through a feast of nostalgia, with many previously unseen photographs, exclusive interviews and illustrations. Contributors include Steve Cambden, Julie Jones, Bob Richardson and Mike Tucker

Although there have since been many Doctor Who exhibitions, Blackpool was unlike any other and remains fondly remembered by generations of fans. This is their story.

Watch the trailer for the book in the player, below:

+  The ebook can be downloaded from https://blackpoolremembered7485.wordpress.com/

[Source: Philip Brennan]


21 September 2020

Radio Times have announced the results of a recent poll for Doctor Who fans to cast their votes for their favourite Doctor.

With nearly 50,000 votes, David Tennant's 10th Doctor narrowly beat Jodie Whittaker's 13th Doctor, with both snagging 21% of the votes. Tennant got 10,518 votes and Whittaker got 10,423 - a difference of just 95 votes!

Whilst we're not particularly big fans of pitting Doctors against each other in polls (they're all fantastic, right?), it was rather exciting to see Jodie and David's Doctor's rank so highly. Following this news, the Daily Mirror newspaper got in touch with DWO to ask why we thought David's Doctor was such a fan favourite, and below was our response:

"David's popularity is thanks to his role in making the franchise a bigger success in the US. David's Doctor was the first that really made it internationally. He also helped even out the fan base. It used to be about 70-80% male back in the day [when DWO first started out], and now it's pretty much 50/50. Jodie helped that as well, so I'm pleased she's so high up on the list.

For many, Tom Baker is the top one. It's interesting to see he isn't in the top three. David Tennant pipped him to the post. His stories are really well written as well, under Russell T. Davies". 

A full breakdown of the votes can be viewed below:

1) David Tennant 10518 / 21%
2) Jodie Whittaker 10423 / 21%
3) Peter Capaldi 8897 / 18%
4) Matt Smith 7637 / 16%
5) Tom Baker 3977 / 8%
6) William Hartnell 1983 / 4%
7) Paul McGann 1427 / 3%
8) Christopher Eccleston 1144 / 2%
9) Jon Pertwee 1038 / 2%
10) Patrick Troughton 915 / 2%
11) Sylvester McCoy 462 / 1%
12) Colin Baker 359 / 1%
13) Peter Davison 351 / 1% 

[Source: Radio Times]


21 September 2020

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Leah Reise

RRP: £8.33 / $11.00 (Paperback) | £3.20 / $3.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 21st September 2020

This time around we're dipping back into the world of vampires in Leah Reise's 'The Beauty In Darkness: A Vampire Story'; a refreshing take on the supernatural genre.

Edrea, our central character, is dead. That is, she has just died - on her 29th Birthday of all days. It gets worse though, as Edrea has been turned into a Vampire and she's not keen on this new "life". With an opportunity to end her existence once and for all, she's about to go through with it until she hears the scream of a woman in trouble. Suddenly, Edrea is given fresh new purpose and, rather fortunately for us, (spoiler alert) doesn't go through with her initial plan.

This story is also about Edrea's sister, Rena; someone who only knows her sister is missing - and not the grave truth about what actually happened to her and what she has become. The story flip-flops between each sister's perspective, but rather unusually we get a third-person perspective for Rena as opposed to Edrea's first-person. Not a critique - it still works and I guess it focuses us more on Edrea.

I think what makes this book so engaging is the inner turmoil that Edrea is constantly going through. She is fighting against her new instincts and it wonderfully emboldens just how strong she is in doing so. You want a strong, female character here - you got it! I also love her self-titled 'dark heroine' persona that she eventually comes to accept. Taking the supernatural out of it, there are so many parallels to everyday struggles we as humans face, and it's so nice, regardless of gender, to see them reflected in Edrea's own struggles.

At its heart, this is a morality tale, and one that despite the subject matter and some of the macabre tone, will actually give you hope and comfort. No better can this be evidenced than by something Edrea says, herself:

"No one is ever truly alone, because we're all lonely together"

There are some great characters throughout, although some which you wish you knew a little more about and have fleshed out. Finally, I want to commend Reise for her excellent use of pacing; everything starts off with a bang before settling down to the meat of the story with a gradual build to a satisfying conclusion.

The Beauty In Darkness is an easy read, to the point that (at the risk of sounding cliche) you don't want to put it down. When you do reach the end, there's a rather lovely letter from the author with the promise of a sequel - something we are very much looking forward to reading.

+  The Beauty In Darkness is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @LeahReise on Twitter.

15 September 2020

TARDISMonkey's Torchwood Diary - watching Torchwood an episode a week from the start...

2.12: Fragments

We start this episode again in true Torchwood fashion as they’re on a mission to find a mysterious message originating from an abandoned warehouse. In a twist of events, it turns out the team have been lead straight into a trap and a huge explosion happens as a bomb goes off. Buckle in for this one as all their lives flash before their very eyes.

 

The first person to have the flashback is Jack and references how he ended up becoming a part of Torchwood today. It’s still never clear how Jack managed to get back to Earth, however we see him during the victorian era getting brutally killed again and again by what turns out to be some of the earlier Torchwood agents. After experimenting with Jack and finding out he can never die, they take the opportunity of convincing him to join Torchwood, more for the sake of a stable job and money. In addition, his future is read to him and he finds out he won’t be seeing The Doctor for at least another 100 years, so by joining Torchwood, well what does he have to lose? It does throw a few paradoxes into the works, such as; what did Jack do during the war when he knew he had already encountered The Doctor and Rose? Also how did Jack not meet previous incarnations of The Doctor when UNIT were fighting the Yeti’s, Cybermen and even The Doctor being their scientific advisor? It would have been nice for some explanation as to why he had to meet The Doctor at a specific point otherwise consequences could happen. Moving on, Jack is eventually forced to take charge after his commander commits suicide after killing the entire team in 1999. It was an atrocious way to gain ranks in the team, but explains hugely why Jack is very protective over his Torchwood team now.

 

We then move onto Toshiko’s introduction to Torchwood and what a twist and turn of events takes place here. You could write an entire episode on what Tosh had to go through. Her mum is kidnapped by a criminal organisation, who force Tosh to build an alien weapon -  the sonic inducer - which is then taken down by UNIT themselves!? Tosh goes through absolute hell whilst locked up in the UNIT cells, with all of her basic human rights taken away. No wonder she has such a close bond to Torchwood as a company, as Jack comes in to save the day, with the caveat that she has to use her skills to benefit the Torchwood team. It again does leave a huge question as to why Tosh can’t see her mum after all of this? She had been retconed to save her sanity, so why can’t Tosh keep Torchwood secret just as Gwen did with Rhys?

 

Next, we have Ianto Jones. We all know that Ianto used to work at Torchwood in London. This was before moving to Cardiff to use the facilities to save Lisa as she was partly converted into a Cyberman. However, we get an almost comedic style approach as to how he transferred from London to Cardiff. He bumps into Jack and helps him fight a pterodactyl, brining him coffee sporadically before Jack finally gives him a job. It gives a bit of a reason as to why Ianto didn’t have a more technical role at the beginning, as the only job Jack could think of  for him was making coffee. Unfortunately the style in which it’s done, feels like it undermines the implications of why Ianto wanted to join Cardiff Torchwood, when we all know he was doing it from serious intentions.

 

We then finally get Owen’s backstory. This is the one that shocked me the most, as we find out that Owen was actually going to get married. It was a plot twist I didn’t expect to see. Unfortunately Owen’s fiancé has early onset alzheimer’s, which is heart breaking to see and explains why he was so passionate about becoming a doctor in order to help seek some kind of a cure. However in Torchwood style, it turns out that an alien being inside her head is causing the condition which inevitably kills her before Jack can get there in time. Jack tries to help Owen overcome the situation by making him think his fiancée died in a peaceful way, but the horrors were too great. Jack and Owen have a confrontation in the graveyard before Jack takes Owen under his wing like a father, and takes him away to start his new life in Torchwood. It does reveal why Owen keeps a lot of his emotions bottled up and his relationships have been far from straight forward.

 

So as we reach the end and the Torchwood team escape with minimal damage, which is a little bit unbelievable with the massive explosion that happened, they find out it’s Captain John Hart who was behind the attack. In true Chris Chibnall style, the villain has returned for the last episode to face the final fight. Overall this episode is a great insight into the Torchwood team once again and it gives a sense of impending doom, as we finally know what these characters are all about.


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

Follow @Tardis_Monkey on Twitter!
+ Follow @DrWhoOnline on Twitter!

[Source:
DWO]

14 September 2020

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Steve Lyons, Jacqueline Rayner, Tommy Donbavand & Kate Thorman

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: July 2020

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"Separated from his companions, the Doctor attempts to find solace in the history of his favourite planet – Earth – but instead discovers new threats lying in wait.

Travelling from twentieth-century East Berlin to sixteenth-century Strasbourg, the Doctor encounters creatures from other realities: monsters beneath the waves, and human beings determined to exploit their fellow man.

But how long can he survive without a friend?"

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers. You have been warned!

It’s that time of the year again: Big Finish’s “4x4 release”. Paradoxically, this annual affair arguably shows off the varying beast that is Big Finish best of all. On the one hand, it shows how quick they are to fall back and repeat themselves at the first whiff of success. Circular Time was released to critical acclaim in 2007 and so Big Finish have repeated the trick every year since rather than try anything new. On the other hand, by and large these releases have proven themselves to be some of the best they do all year, and 1001 Nights for the Fifth Doctor was especially strong. I guess sometimes you swing and hit.

Back last year (November 2019 to be precise) I reviewed Conversion, a two-part story for the Fifth Doctor which ended with him leaving his companions for a bit to mull over traumatic events. I commented then that it doesn’t really fit in with TV continuity at all, and while that’s not something that is necessarily an issue (after all, the Fourth Doctor in Big Finish isn’t a thing like the Fourth Doctor on TV, and most of the actors don’t sound like they used to, including David Tennant), it is something that jarred.

Skip forward to 2020 and we follow up the ending to that story. Sort of. We get four stories here with the Fifth Doctor on his own, but quite why he’s riding solo is never addressed. I feel this is probably the best way forward as it makes this release far more of a standalone affair, a welcome thing in the muddy waters of Big Finish internal continuity.

We kick things off with Ghost Station by Steve Lyons. Set in Berlin, it sees the Doctor encounter a lone soldier and try to solve a murder mystery. I can pretty much guarantee you’ll know the ending a few minutes in but it’s well acted and directed with some nice sound design to tie it all together.  Just don’t expect any surprises along the way.

The Bridge Master by Jacqueline Rayner is next, and it’s a lot of fun with a great central premise: the Doctor has his shadow sacrificed to appease evil, but it turns out that perhaps there is more to this than simple ritual and superstition when the Doctor finds himself falling ill after the operation. Rayner writes her supporting cast with a lot of character depth and the sound design again works well. This is all rather lovely. (Oh, and for all I’ve said Conversion last year doesn’t fit in with TV continuity, the references to The Great British Bake-Off here are at once more of a continuity breaker but also far less of an issue as they’re fun lines and not ones which give us incompatible character traits and stories.)

Third up is What Lurks Down Under by Tommy Donbavand, to whom this release is dedicated in a genuinely touching gesture. His story is a strange one: a celebrity historical in which you are never told much about the celebrity or why they’re important. If you don’t know who Mary Wade is, or why she is so important in Australia's history, you’re not going to come away any wiser and instead you’ll be wondering why the story is a companion introductory tale without the new companion staying at the end. Indeed, you’d be very easily forgiven for not knowing she was a real person in the first place (and seeing as Mary Shelley has travelled with the Eighth Doctor, there isn’t really any great reason that Wade couldn’t, too). It’s definitely a different approach and Wade comes across well, but it feels a little empty and lacking finality because of the lack of historical context we are given. Still, if it encourages people to research her story, that’s surely a good thing, and the inclusion of a play by Donbavand is really nice. The interviews included state how he always wanted to write a story for Big Finish, but sadly died before it was made and released. It’s a touching and glowing testimony to the company that we have it here.

We wrap things up with The Dancing Plague by Kate Thorman, which proves to be every bit as good as Rayner’s play: they’re by far the highlights of this release. Set in the midst of the infamous Dancing Plague, a strange historical occurrence where people started dancing for no readily apparent reason and then just… stopped, the Doctor is on hand to try and solve the puzzle, aided by the rather brilliant Margareta. Everything here just works: great choice of historical location, brilliant dialogue, fantastic cast acting their socks off, and a satisfying ending.

And so we come to an end. Some things muddled, some things you’ve heard many times before, and some things utterly brilliant: how very Big Finish overall. With the monthly plays soon changing format entirely, this may be the last time this particular structure has an outing for a while. All told, this is a strong release and a fine farewell to it.


+ Time Apart is OUT NOW, priced £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


14 September 2020

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Evangeline Greene

RRP: £12.43 / $14.99 (Paperback) | £3.25 / $3.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 14th September 2020

Sophia Violet And The Fiery Orb revolves around the titular Sophia; a 14-year girl with violet eyes who is about to discover her life isn't quite as it seems...

Right from the first chapter the reader is gripped as we are launched into the moments after Sophia's birth, with her parents scrambling as they give over their precious newborn Daughter to protect her from an, as-yet, unseen threat.

Enter Rayson, a changeling (and one of our main antagonists) who we first see as a giant Panther, pursuing Sophia's parent's as they try to escape the hospital car park. What's rather clever, is Rayson looks at Sarah (Sophia's mother) and thinks that the baby is yet to be born, giving precious time for her adoptive parents to escape the hospital.

Without giving too much more away, we then cut forward to present day, where an adolescent Sophia, now living in New York City, begins a new school. And so begins the adventure as our protagonist discovers the truth that she is a child of two worlds, as well as the important path before her to save them.

Throw in shapeshifting aliens, mysterious orbs and a meaty plot that holds everything together perfectly, this is one young adult fantasy that will keep your attention to the final page. There's also a rather poignant environmental message that courses through the story - one which reflects the current climate change issues in our own, real-world lives. It's also a mark of genius how Greene uses this as a device within the story - again, not trying to give anything away.

As you approach the end, there is a satisfying finish to the story whilst leading directly into a (fingers crossed) sequel. In fact, that whole last page reads almost like a screenplay, and you can just imagine yourself sitting in a movie theatre as it cuts to black after the final description. Marvellous stuff!

Whilst the character and setting descriptions throughout are top-notch, it is the author's grasp at relationships - particularly teenage relationships, that shine through. They are rich and layered and, more importantly, believable. You’re not short of decent character’s, either; there are plenty of strong female characters without the temptation of making them ‘kick-ass’, and the foil between the protagonist and the antagonist is in perfect balance.

There are parallels to Harry Potter and His Dark Materials, but Sophia Violet is still very much its own thing; it's just nice to have the comfort of feeling that this book is holding its own against those cherished genre bedfellows.

A genuine treat to have read, Sophia Violet and the Fiery Orb is the coming-of-age, head-turning fantasy that you've been waiting for!

+  Sophia Violet And The Fiery Orb is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @GreeneAuthor on Twitter.

9 September 2020

BBC Studios today announced the final, missing piece in Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious with a five-part CGI animation launching in November this year. Daleks! will be available for fans to watch for free, weekly on the Doctor Who YouTube channel.

Daleks! is a 5x10 min animation and will feature a star-studded voiceover cast with Nicholas Briggs (voice of the Daleks in Doctor Who) Joe Sugg (YouTube, Strictly Come Dancing), Anjli Mohindra (Bodyguard, The Sarah Jane Adventures) and Ayesha Antoine (Holby City).

Nicholas Briggs said:

“This latest, fantastic, thrill-packed venture into the world of animation, with the Daleks as the stars of the show, is something so many of us have been craving for years. And for me it’s been a marvellous challenge, as usual playing every single Dalek in action, but with the added excitement of portraying some beautifully written, leading Dalek characters. It’s been a blast, and I can’t wait to see the finished production."

 Joe Sugg said:

“I’m super excited and thankful to have been invited to play a role in this new animation. I’ve been a fan of Doctor Who from a young age so to be a part of it is a dream come true.”

Anjli Mohindra said:

“When I saw that this series was about THOSE iconic villains I knew it was going to be one hell of a ride and I couldn’t wait to sign up!! I had so much fun being thrown into the wonderfully weird world of remote recording and so thrilled that I was able to be part of something that feel so special!”

Ayesha Antoine said:

“I have never been more fascinated to see the final product of a show. To be a part of the animated story of these iconic baddies is really special. The recording session was a whole new adventure - another surreal moment to add to the growing list from 2020”. 

Written by James Goss and created by Salford-based animators Studio Liddell, Daleks! is a BBC Studios Digital production.

Time Lord Victorious officially launched earlier this month, with products and experiences dropping every week until early 2021. The multi-platform story brings together eleven partners across ten platforms for the first time ever to tell a brand new Doctor Who adventure for fans across the world. Fans can enjoy as much or as little of the adventure as they choose, exploring the animation as well as novels, magazines, comics, escape rooms, audios, games, immersive theatre, vinyl, figurines and t-shirts. 

More information about Daleks! will be announced soon. Details about Time Lord Victorious along with a full timeline of product launches can be found on the Time Lord Victorious website

[Source: BBC Studios]

5 September 2020

Publisher: BHC Press

Written By: Mackenzie Flohr

RRP: £19.95 / $25.95 (Hardback) | £11.95 / $14.95 (Paperback) | £1.49 / $1.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 5th September 2020

We've been incredibly excited to get stuck into Mackenzie Flohr's The Rite Of Wands - a fantasy saga that will speak to anyone who loves this popular, if crowded genre. Indeed, it takes something special to stand up above the crowd and get noticed; something this book did right from the off with some help from the striking cover artwork by Vern Firestone.

This is a tale of two young warlocks; Mierta McKinnon and Orlynd O'Brien - both wishing for more than their lot and coming to terms with their newfound powers. Both are wonderfully complex characters who share a number of similarities, but each are very much treading their own path. This is helped by the way in which Flohr keeps their stories separate, flip-flopping between chapters.

What we loved most about The Rite Of Wands, was how unpredictable it is. Yes, there's good and evil, but there are so many shades between that Flohr explores - particularly with Mierta. As the book progresses we see a time jump where our main protagonist has changed and you are left not really knowing where he or his intentions are going. This is someone you care about and the frustration you feel as a reader is just fantastic. Talk about gripping! The unpredictabilty is always in the back of your mind; just when you feel like you know a character, Flohr may just throw a curveball to flip the script (and your perception).

There are shocks, surprises and moments that will genuinely have your jaw dropping to the proverbial cobbled floor. We’ve not read a true fantasy adventure so captivating as this is since The Lord Of The Rings, and it's all down to Flohr's masterpiece in world-building. Rooms that characters enter are described in such rich detail that you feel like you're actually there. Characters faces are described in similar detail that you actually see them in your minds eye; Mierta's servant is a prime example: 

"He was a tall young man in his late teens. His long, curly, black hair had been tied back at the base of his neck. A short well-trimmed beard covered his strong jaw line, and his upper lip was covered by a thin moustache under a long beak-like nose. His fiery brown eyes betrayed his weary countenance."

Flohr, Mackenzie. The Rite of Wands (p. 35). BHC Press. Kindle Edition.

We mentioned earlier about a jump in time, and another tool that Flohr uses, rather fantastically, is the ability to go back and forth in time, seemingly effortlessly to fill in the character's backstory, whilst not too obviously distracting from the plot. With a character who can also see into the future, this also makes for an interesting device in the storytelling.

There's a great cliffhanger involving a certain character's fate - one which we will not reveal here because SPOILERS, but it is excellently played out and leaves you desperate to find out what happens next in this enchanting tale.

The Rite Of Wands is a perfect mesh of Doctor Who and Harry Potter, with the added adventure and fantasy of The Lord Of The Rings thrown in for good measure - it's literally all our favourite fandoms in one book!

Book 2 (The Rite Of Abnegation) was released earlier this year and DWO will be covering this title, shortly. Cant wait!

+  The Rite Of Wands is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @MackenzieFlohr on Twitter.

4 September 2020

In partnership with BBV Productions, Arcbeatle Press is pleased to announce Cyberon, the first novelization of a BBV property. Expanding upon the original 2001 film of the same name directed by Bill Baggs, the book is written by P.RO.B.E. range editor James Hornby and adapted from the script by Lance Parkin, Cyberon is due for release Autumn 2020.

The book, like the film, sees psychologist Lauren Anderson become witness to a disturbing drug trial on several mental patients and sufferers of dementia, in an effort to reconstitute their failing health. As she begins to uncover dark secrets, and the drug known as Cyberon starts showing hallucinogenic effects on nearly all the patients, will Lauren make it out of this horrific experiment alive?

Cyberon will be the first print release by Arcbeatle Press in their partnership with BBV Productions, soon to be followed by the previously announced P.R.O.B.E: Out of the Shadows. Look for more announcements soon. 

More information, including interviews with Bill Baggs and author James Hornby about the project, can be found at arcbeatlepress.com.

[Source: James Hornby]

31 August 2020

Publisher: BHC Press

Written By: J.W. Garrett

RRP: £10.95 / $14.95 (Paperback)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 31st August 2020

Following on from our recent review of Remeon's Destiny, we are thrilled to have just finished the sequel (or rather, prequel); Remeon's Quest.

This time around, we find ourselves back in time to 1930, where America is still in the crux of the Great Depression. The story sees our main character, Jack Livingston, dealing with a tragedy at work that takes his best friend Sam from him. Left with a note from Sam, Jack begins to carve out the new future he initially planned with his friend, when life takes another, unsuspecting turn...

I want to begin by commending J.W. Garrett for such a gripping start to this story. From the  gut-wrenching loss Jack deals with, to the journey he goes on with Harry, the reader is pulled along at a fantastic pace that somehow also allows you to breathe in the sights along the way. Such is Garret's attention to detail, from the cold beginning in Utah to Las Vegas and - quite literally - BEYOND, you really feel like you are travelling a first class, evocative ticket with the characters.

Speaking of characters, Remeon's Quest is brimming with a whole host of rich, new characters, as well as some old (or should that be younger?) favourites from the previous chapter in the Realms Of Chaos saga. Of these new characters, Whisterley is definitely our favourite; another strong, female character that helps balance the book, whilst giving our central character some much-needed happiness.

Again, we have a wonderful, expertly crafted blend of Science Fiction and Fantasy, with the added sprinkling of a love story between Jack and Whisterley, that holds central to the book.

As with Remeon's Destiny, you never know what is around the corner; be it a new best friend, an oncoming spaceship or true love, but one thing you can count on is a thrill-ride full of adventure.

This is some genius storytelling, and whilst it's not a movie (gosh what a movie series this would make!), it does reflect a little of the clever use of time travel seen in Back To The Future. Little nods that come back to play out later on - not to mention the time jumps.

There's some real momentum with this series and with book 3 (Remeon's Crusade) having just been released, I cannot wait to see what happens next, chronologically.

+  Remeon's Quest is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @GarrettJLW on Twitter.

28 August 2020

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Written By: Beverly Torres

RRP: £2.27 / $2.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 28th August 2020

At just 93 pages long, Beverly Torres' The Moon's Pull is one of the shortest books we've  reviewed so far, but boy does the author pack a lot into those pages!

Right from the off, we're thrown into the action as our lead character, Sam - a small town detective who seeks her peers' acceptance - arrives at a horrifying and rather mysterious crime scene. Sam is being watched from the nearby foggy hillside, by an equally mysterious character who we come to learn is Quentin Blackstone - our other main protagonist, and who also happens to be a Werewolf...

The story flip-flops between Sam and Quentin's point of view until they are thrown together through their attraction for each other and the common interest in the recent spate of murders.

The change of scenery between the detective work, with that of the exciting, supernatural world of werewolves acts as a fantastic contrast. Whilst you are constantly wanting to get back to anything with Sam and Quentin in it, you realise that the mundane gives necessary balance.

Torres' use of names is inspired, too. Carrick, Quentin and Baylock all sound like they are from an age gone by and fit perfectly within the Werewolf genre. Indeed, it feels like the author has done some incredible research on Werewolf lore as it feels so fleshed out and believable.

As one would hope, there is a poignant and utterly perfect climax to the story. Torres has got everything right here and on paper, for a story so short, it shouldn't work - but it does. This is a lesson in world-building and storytelling that proves you don't have to write an epic saga to pull off a good story.

There are so many well-written moments, and without giving too much away, there was a whole section near the end featuring a werewolf/human ceremony that was so beautifully written that the visuals it conjured are still vibrant in our mind.

The Moon's Pull would make a terrific TV movie; it's like a cross between Torchwood and Twilight, and let's be honest, werewolves are much cooler than vampires. Speaking of which, there are some racy scenes in the middle of the book that will please those wishing for a little bit more than what we got from Bella and Edward's foray in Twilight.

There's no word on a sequel, but we're hoping that Torres may dip back into this world in the future as there's loads of potential for further adventures. Whilst it was undoubtedly short, The Moon's Pull is an incredibly easy and captivating read. 

+  The Moon's Pull is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @Btorres3 (Beverly Torres) on Twitter.

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