I think I should have a reunion with a certain Dorothy McShane. I have made it abundantly clear throughout several different reviews that I am quite the Doctor Who fan. Much like every fan of any long running series I have a few favourite eras. So…when I heard that Sophie Aldred – who played the part of the Doctor’s final companion Ace during the classic era of the show (1963-1989 and in Ace’s case specifically 1987-1989) – was going to write a Doctor Who novel where Ace meets up with the current TARDIS crew I HAD to give it a listen! You could think of this as Sophie’s version of Doctor Who: Scratchman written by Tom Baker which I reviewed previously.
The plot of At Childhood’s End is as follows: It has been several years for Dorothy McShane, CEO of reputable charity A Charitable Earth since her days of travelling with The Doctor – or as she called him The Professor. Since the days of Ace. They didn’t exactly part on good terms. But things have been getting strange recently. Dorothy has been having terrible recurring nightmares. Nightmares about being abducted to a strange alien world. Again. At the same time groups of young runaways are disappearing and there is quite the bad rat infestation in Perivale, Dorothy’s old home town. Last but not least an alien satellite has just appeared above Earth. How is the Doctor involved in all this? Can Dorothy and The Doctor work past their old issues? Will they be able to solve this mess together for the good of the Earth? And will Dorothy be trusted by Graham, Yaz and Ryan? Is it time for Ace to come out of adventuring retirement?
This audiobook is solid gold! It feels like the perfect mix between the end of the classic era and Doctor Who as it is now. Sophie perfectly captures Ace once again after all these years (Big Finish audios notwithstanding) and her changes in character and mindset feel believable.It’s also lovely to have the odd reference here and there to non televised Doctor Who stories – Cybermen in the Blitz, the Ground Zero incident, Ace on Gallifrey – and a few others. Not forgetting the classic references to Ace’s era. Her writing is excellent, both exciting and engaging enough for you to get lost in the story and intelligent enough for it to feel like it is naturally what is required in the situation. Her choices of phrase can be wonderfully evocative at points. Both her original characters written for the book and her interpretations of the current TARDIS crew feel wonderful. Graham and Ryan got more than a few smiles out of me – as did Jodie herself – and the character development for Yaz in particular was very much appreciated. Any chance we could persuade Sophie to write for the TV series?
The narration for the audiobook is also done by Sophie who has fulfilled the role of narrator on several Doctor Who audiobooks and others as well. Her voice is very good in my opinion at keeping the listener’s attention and matching the character’s emotions at the time. Her narration for Jodie isn’t exactly perfect with regards to accent but I’ve definitely heard worse attempts at the Thirteenth Doctor! I’m almost certainly going to hear Sophie’s narration again soon.
In conclusion I highly recommend this book. It is the perfect mix of Classic and New Who. I couldn’t stop grinning through most of the book.
The adventure was very gripping and I certainly hope that Sophie could be persuaded to do another Who story of her own in some capacity. It might not be perfect for everyone but regardless if you enjoy the modern era, Classic Who or its all the same to you I’m sure this story will give you more than a few reasons to smile.
After all this story…IS WICKED!