Doctor Who, Quick Reads, Magic of the Angels by Jacqueline Rayner.

A very personal review. 
The cover for Magic of the angels.
The cover of Jacqueline Rayner’s Magic of the angels.

Quick Reads

So how is it I as a literature student am reading and reviewing a Quick Reads book? Well first of all I am a huge Doctor Who fan, I simply love that not making sense world of the Doctor. Second I just happened to find this book when I was on vacation in London in June. Thirdly I have no problem with Quick Reads, even I like a short and well written book. If I am honest I think anyone disregarding text because it’s easy to read is a moron. Some might argue that this is a child’s book and I am not going to go all defensive and argue the opposite, sure this book is suitable for children but it’s not meant to be only for children. The people behind Quick Reads describes their aim as: “ Quick reads are brilliantly written short new books by bestselling authors and celebrities. Whether you’re an avid reader who wants a quick fix or haven’t picked up a book since school, sit back, relax and let Quick Reads inspire you.”

In my opinion the Quick Reads do just what they say, because even as a experienced reader and scholar I did enjoy this story. It’s well written, not easy exactly, just more focused to the point of the story and it uses far less words, but it gives a lot of emotions. Just like poems it’s short as to sense of the number of words used to describe something but the emotion and action of the story is still very vibrant. The story is told with a lot of “free space” for the reader to imagine things, you don’t get force fed a view or feeling from the narrator or the characters, instead you get clues to how each of them might feel and view certain events. It’s a style of writing which I would love to master but am very far from doing. It lets the reader be involved and sets the imagination and the brain at work. You get the frames of a story but you’re not being told all of it, some things just happens inside your head. If you are like me and have a very vivid imagination, this sort of books is certainly something for you.

The story

So what about this particular story then. The first thing that appealed to me was of course the cover of the book so let’s look at that. First of all it has the picture of the 11th Doctor, who happens to be one of my favorites, beside him is his companions from the 5th och 6th series (on TV), Amy and Rory, at this point I am intrigued. Below the picture and the Doctor Who logotype we have another favorite of mine, the enemies known as the Weeping Angels. Well that’s good enough for me to spend 1.99£ (22 Sek) on a book. So what is the story then? Well shortly you might say this story is about a cheating magician who does anything to be famous. The Doctor and his companions are sightseeing in London and they happen upon the magic show of Sammy Star. After watching his famous graveyard trick the trio realizes that this trick is much more than a trick and that the old women that was sitting in the row behind them is somehow linked to this mystery. So Rory sets off being a good nurse while the Doctor walks into danger and Amy follows him, pretty much as usual.

Sounds just like the usual story? Well on the surface it might seem just a simple thing with no real substance just a bit of nonsense. Well any good Doctor Who fan would know that the most important things are the usual things and the nonsense. Underneath this seemingly simple plot there’s actually a lot of critique at our society. One example is Amy telling us that she don’t like when people speak rudely to anyone who don’t deserve it:

“The woman in the blazer stood up. ʻJust ignore them,ʼ she said to Amy. ʻMrs Hooper! Mrs Collins! Be quiet now! You’re getting on this nice young girl’s nerves.ʼ ʻOh no,ʼ Amy replied. ʻThey’re not getting on my nerves.ʼ She didn’t like to hear people being spoken to so rudely, when they’d done nothing to deserve it.” (p. 19)

This scene is in the theater with the old ladies, who turns out to hold a key to this story but this is not known only implied as yet in the story. This comment reflect the ageism that exists and it speaks well with young people as they are well aware of the feeling of not being listened to. The author has written in a bridge between ages by combining a universal feeling of not being taken seriously and at the same time established that there is some who do listen, people like Amy. It’s not criticism in your face but by no means unimportant. It gives certain morality to this story and to the character of Amy. The theme of this story also hold somewhat of a morality as it is about being famous by any means, even those you scarcely can imagine. Sammy Star is prepared to risk all and young women’s lives just to be on TV and be famous. Even though it’s a bit ironic that TV-series characters talk about the consequences of wanting to be on TV at any cost, the moral of this is beautifully written into the story.

Structure and narration

This story has an“all knowing narrator” which I usually don’t like as they have a nasty way of giving you too much guidance, but for some stories they do work. The use of this (all knowing) guiding sort of narrator is rather often associated with children’s literature and is perhaps the reason why some people dismiss such literature as childish. I rather think that sort of narrator is necessary in children’s literature because they do not have the same capability as adults to keep things objective (some people argue they lack the notion of ego). They don’t automatically think this is the view of only this person and therefore sometimes it is necessary to have a guidance (it is used in adult fiction as well). Another reason why I think this narrator is necessary is the use of multiple main characters. To narrate from the I of three people that interact with each other and other characters would be unnecessarily tricky. Sometimes however I think this way of writing gets a bit stale and impersonal, I as a reader get the feeling of only scraping the surface, from above or at least from outside. However in this story when we already know the characters through other books, the TV-series and radio it’s not a big issue. Which only goes to show that different styles of writing depends on the situation and the story. If you write about the situation/actions and not the people this is very effective style, but if you like Dickens for example want to present a character and then the story seen from this/these character(s) this style would not do.

My view

So come on what did I think of this book? It’s surprisingly interesting and challenging, not in words and actions but to the imagination. It’s actually one of the better contemporary books I have read in a while. Sure I feel like the style is a bit stale and sometimes the pace is very slow, but I feel like that very often especially with contemporary literature. I think if you buy this Quick Reads it gives you what you payed for. It’s short, entertaining and well written (good spelling and grammar is a rarity these days). I think I shall have to read some more books aimed at youths because they seem to offer more freedom and chance to imagine than any of the contemporary books for adults, where everything needs to be explained in every gory detail, it’s sickening. I sincerely enjoyed reading this, and you can not beat an Doctor Who adventure with the Weeping angels very easily. Will I read another Quick Reads Doctor Who novel? Of course I will.

For purchasing this book:

Sweden (What happened there? Are you actually waking up and smelling an interest in the Who universe?)

UK (Worldwide, or at least anywhere with access to Amazon)