Magic of the Angels by Jacqueline Rayner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A Quick Read can easily just slip by in a single sitting. At the end, you might feel the urge to go out and read more of an author, or you might be inspired to read another and another. A Quick Read done well provides a somewhat self contained tale that has a distinct beginning, middle and an end – and presents them with style, energy, enthusiasm, engagement… one or another, several or all.
Somewhere in the mix, ‘Magic of the Angels’ tells a self-contained tale with all the necessary elements, but fails to satisfy with depth and leaves the reader wanting without the hunger to seek out more from the same source.
Having read other books in the Quick Read series for 2012, I have seen how you can achieve some interesting things in a very limited page count. Jacqueline Rayner doesn’t quite pull it off here. The Doctor, Amy and Rory seem right enough, with just enough character to match the expectation of a fan reader or young Whovian. However, perhaps a little too much fan service and rolling out of familiar series tropes makes for a distraction rather than an essential dollop of colour.
I enjoyed the basic plot, but felt that the human villain of the piece might have been given more background to better sell the reader on his intentions. His callouse indifference to the fate of his victims in the pursuit of his own selfish purpose would have benefited from a deeper sence of his hurt or battered vision of the world.
The author makes great use of the abilities of the Weeping Angel, drawing in elements from all appearance of the monster in the series, but fails to provide motivation or thorough explanation. The story fails to explain why the Weeping Angel chooses to submit to external control or feeds with such limited quantities. The canny Angels have survived for so long for a reason, yet this one seems dulled by captivity and indifferent to the possibilities of escape presented by the situation.
The familiar time travelling characters work well enough together and we get the expected division of companions from the Time Lord for hi-jinx and a threat of sudden and premature demise. I can’t pick holes in the essentials of the story, or indeed have any wish to try, but the end result left me feeling mildly unsatisfied. Everything hung together, but it felt thin, like using one of those vacuum-sealed micro-tubs of strawberry jam to spread across a whole piece of steaming toast. You get a hint of flavour, but not enough.
I went in for the whole luxurious Belgian chocolate experience and came away with a thinly coated, store own branded, diet wafer snack. Quick Read, by all means – but, that shouldn’t mean skimping on the story.