If I had to choose a favourite companion from the classic era of Doctor Who, there’s a good chance that I would choose Ace. Sophie Aldred did a brilliant job of bringing to life a wonderfully nuanced character, and tonnes of other writers have also done a great job of developing Ace further through various Doctor Who novels over the years. With this book, Sophie Aldred took her own crack at writing Ace in a novel – and the results were fantastic.
Here was get to see Ace as CEO of the charity, A Charitable Earth (an ultimate fate for her which had been alluded to in several other stories). She struggles with horrible nightmares and is intrigued when she hears about someone else who has been having the exact same nightmares. Suspecting some kind of external influence, she heads out to investigate. It soon becomes clear that there’s some kind of alien activity going on and in the process of her investigation, she also crosses paths with the Thirteenth Doctor and her companions Yaz, Graham and Ryan.
One of my favourite things about this book was getting to see the interactions between Ace and the Thirteenth Doctor. Of course, Ace had known the Seventh Doctor who, in my opinion, is almost the opposite of the Thirteenth, at least in terms of the variations between the Doctors. There’s tension, but there’s also fondness. We do also get flashbacks to the Seventh Doctor, which provides a nice contrast between the two Doctors’ personalities. Really, I think the Seventh Doctor comes off quite badly, with his manipulative ways having long reaching problems which, not only cause problems for the older Ace, but his own later incarnation and her companions.
It was also great to see Ace meeting Yaz, Graham and Ryan. She seems to warm to Ryan and Graham quite quickly, but there’s a tension and even a jealousy from Yaz and it’s really interesting to see how that plays out. Every single one of the characters was captured perfectly and felt very true to how they had previously been portrayed on the screen (or in other media).
Speaking of other media, one thing which concerned me, as a massive fan, was how this version of Ace would reconcile with the character’s appearances within the expanded universe. Though it would only have been a small thing, it would have been a shame if the comics, audio dramas and other novels were ignored – but as it happens, every single one of them was acknowledged in a way I found quite satisfying. Plus, the whole book was littered with nice little references which are sure to make any fan smile.
It’s one of those books which won’t appeal to people who aren’t so familiar with the history of Doctor Who, but if you know the Thirteenth Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz and you know the Seventh Doctor and Ace, then you could get a lot out of this book. Behind all the character drama, there’s also an exciting sci-fi adventure, but what was most appealing to me was finding out more about Ace’s life as a CEO and the character drama which stemmed from the relationships between everyone.
I only hope that Sophie Aldred will write more novels in future!