Yet another Doctor Who Time Trips novella, a series of short stories written by different authors featuring our favourite Time Lord. A Handful of Stardust features many people's least favourite, the Sixth Doctor with Peri, a companion who divided opinion. As a child I loved her but I know many people rank her among the worst companions. It's not then a story that starts from a place of overwhelming nostalgic warmth!
Mostly set in England in 1572, the Doctor and Peri meet John Dee, "Doctor of divinity and of mathematics. Alchemist, astrologist, navigator, I am, sir, Her Majesty’s most noble intelligencer. And the greatest mind of our time." Dee is rather like the Doctor, a robust character with a thirst for knowledge. He is aided by Thomas Digges who develops quite the crush on Peri. The characters are the strongest part of the story for me, Arnott doesn't quite capture the Sixth Doctor, he has his ebullience but not his crotchetiness but it's a decent enough characterisation of such a polarising figure, Peri doesn't do much of note but the relationship between her as a Twentieth Century Botany student and the Sixteenth Century scientist Digges is a nice little subplot. Happily and without giving too much away there's a properly bad enemy this time. However, the story itself is just a bit dull and forgettable. I didn't really care what happened and it was also sorted out far too easily. Of the Time Trips I've read so far this has been my least favourite, it's worth a read if you're a Who fan but I don't know if I'd read it again.
Thanks to the publishers for my free copy received through NetGalley in return for my unbiased review.
A Handful of Startdust is published in the UK by Ebury Publishing