Mark Valentine (ed) - The Black Veil & Other Tales of Supernatural Sleuths
This is a pretty sweet little compilation of stories featuring detectives of the paranormal and the occult such as Thomas Carnacki and Valentine's own Connoisseur. The selection has been put together by the very lovely Mark Valentine of Tartarus Press and features some really wonderful tales alongside a couple of duffers.
There are moments here that had me rapt; the aforementioned Carnacki, Ray Russell's tale of Clockwork revenge gone wrong, Rosalie Parkers gorgeously frustrating haunted house tale, Mark's own Machen-esque tale of folklore and obligation and Vernon Knowles' beautifully sad and odd tale of Basil Thorpenden.
Other tales moved me not at all - Donald Campbell's tale 'The Necromancer' was particularly woeful - but on the whole this was an eminently readable selection that provides a deliciously enticing intro to this most interesting niche genre.
Various Authors - Doctor Who: 50th Anniversary Collection
This is a walloping great tome of a book featuring 11 stories covering 11 Doctors from a gaggle (11 funnily enough) of name writers for teens and adults. It's a pretty solid experience all told with each author putting in a pretty robust performance.
Opening the proceedings is Eoin Colfer with a nippy little rooftop romp over Victorian London against kiddie stealing space pirates. Blatant Peter Pan-isms abound made concrete by a proper cheesy ending.
Michael Scott's 'The Nameless City' is a fun Lovecraftish old ones tale that sticks the second Doctor and Jamie against some very old Time Lord enemies whilst Marcus Sedgwick sends #3 and Jo to ancient Norway to swap a spear before finding themselves amongst nascent gods and a carefully laid trap.
Philip Reeve sticks 4 and Leela up a very large tree that wants revenge for something he's not going to do for quite some time and 5 with Nyssa in tow heads to wartime US and removes two alien species - one happily, the other not so - from a small town. 6 and Peri come face to face with the Rani at an Elvis wedding and 7 manages to rewrite the universe and make the Daleks benign. 8 on the other hand goes up against a sentientish alien spore that's turning all organic matter into itself.
There's a lovely idea at the heart of Charlie Higson's quite bloodthirsty ninth Doctor story set between the two times he asks Rose to travel with him. Derek Landy on the other hand goes all out with the silly as 10 and Martha are stuck inside an awful sub Enid Blyton novel that, much to the Doctor's disgust, Martha had read as a kid. Then, finishing the lot, Neil Gaiman sends the Doctor and Amy up against another bunch of ancient enemies who have evicted the people of Earth.
In all a light and fast read aimed firmly at the YA market (and sad old DW geeks like me) but also an entirely enjoyable one.