(ISBN 0-563-53841-4)







 There is a world

 where wishes can

 come true. Where

 any simpleton can

 become a king and

 any scullery maid

 might be a princess

 in disguise. Kindness

 and virtue are BOTH

 rewarded, and the

 wicked are made to

 dance in hot shoes

 until they die. But a

 witch's oven will

 cook both virtuous

 wicked alike, and

 many a frog-prince

 is crushed beneath

 the wheels of a cart

 before he gets that

 magic kiss.

 This world has its

 own rules and it

 doesn't care that a

 certain Doctor Know

 -All and his friends

 don't know them.
 Now traders from

 the stars seek the

 treasures that fell

 from the rip in the

 sky. There are riddles

 to be solved, contests

 to win, flax to spin.

 The world to survive.
 But the World of

 Wishes is itself in

 danger from a race

 of beings with only

 one wish. And there

 is a Princess asleep,

 and a beast awake -

 and Giants.


 PREVIOUS                                                                                  NEXT





Grimm Reality









Grimm Reality (or ‘The Marvellous Adventures of Doctor Know-All’) was one

of 2001’s most popular Doctor Who novels. Penned by old hand Simon Bucher-Jones and newcomer Kelly Hale – author of the prized Faction Paradox novel, Erasing Sherlock – this fascinating offering fuses science fiction and fairy tale with the same silkiness that it does its co-authors’ styles.


As a concept, Grimm Reality was hardly a bolt from the blue. Depositing the TARDIS crew in a land of literature had already been done in the series as long ago as 1968 (in The Mind Robber) and, more recently, Steve Lyons and Christopher Bulis had each built Who novels upon similar conceits. What it’s important to remember though is that such stories are the exceptions to the rule; that’s what makes them so very memorable. And Grimm Reality is

as different from them as The Space Pirates is from The Wheel in Space.


The fantastical world in which the Doctor, Fitz and Anji find themselves here is one that is much darker than the colourful and camp Land of Fiction previously explored in The Mind Robber and Conundrum. As the title suggests, this is a world populated by folk lifted from the Die Brüder Grimm’s harsh and often grotesque tales. It doesn’t take long for Anji to find herself tricked by a witch into a life of servitude, for instance, or for Fitz to be betrayed by a pair of ignoble princes. It’s hardly Gulliver’s Travels or Adventure Kids. In any event, this is

not a Land of Fiction but a “World of Wishes” – and it does exactly what it says on the tin. This is a planet where “Wishing Boxes” exist, granting whoever wields them their deepest desires. Inevitably, such alluring articles attract the attention of treasure-hunting traders from outer space, who wish that they had they the Wishing Boxes for themselves…



Unfortunately though, these extra-terrestrial antagonists have a frustrating habit of killing the story’s pace stone-dead whenever they appear. In a heartbeat, the reader can be lifted from luscious prose describing extraordinary tales to cold metal and dead dialogue. This novel is similar to Christopher Bulis’ Virgin book The Sorcerer’s Apprentice in this respect, as that Missing Adventure was similarly blighted by science-fiction treading on the toes of fantasy. Indeed, one wonders if Lloyd Rose had got it right with her preceding novel, The City of the Dead, which blithely eschewed the series’ need to explain away magic with science.


Nevertheless, the authors characterisation of the three regulars is enchanting, and more than makes up for any painful clashes of tone. The Doctor fares best, setting himself up as “Doctor Know-All” and offering his services to the fairy tale folk as a donor - essentially a walking, talking plot catalyst; a facilitator of stories. Boucher-Jones and Hale really evoke

the zest of Paul McGann’s exuberant television portrayal, as Doctor Know-All races around saving damsels in distress and outwitting Giants, whilst at the same time silently ruminating on the forgotten destruction of his homeworld through his incessant chest pains; his second heart physically aching for a

world that never existed. Anji

is handled with comparable

aplomb, the authors blessing

her with a number of amusing

scenes – her competition with

Christina to win the hand of the

loathsome Duke of Sighs, for

instance – but without neglecting

her underlying tragedy. Indeed,

putting a Wishing Box in front of

a recently-bereaved woman who’s cut-off from her native time and place is one sure-fire way

to build tension. For his part, Fitz is just Fitz - entertaining and endearing in equal measure, but this isnt really about him.


However, the most dazzling quality of Grimm Reality is its fluency. I couldn’t even hazard

a guess as to which author wrote what, but their reciprocal style is unremittingly rich and romantic; almost Magrstian in its verbosity and splendour. If you’re going to roll out all the fairy tales, then this is certainly the way to frame them.


In the end, my only niggle with this one is its apparently jaded science-fiction element. Whilst the story wouldn’t have worked without its starship full of plunderers, they really clash with the lyrical radiance of the main body of the work. But who knows? Maybe that’s the point...


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2010


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

Unless otherwise stated, all images on this site are copyrighted to the BBC and are used solely for promotional purposes.

Doctor Who is copyright © by the BBC. No copyright infringement is intended.