TWO more titles in the 2 in 1 series of Doctor Who books aimed at the eight to thirteen year olds.

As the series title suggests, each book has two complete stories, mainly written by the writers of other Who novels and TV episodes of the popular show.

Monstrous Missions starts with Terrible Lizards by Jonathan Green, in which the Eleventh Doctor with companions Amy and Rory find themselves on a Victorian tramp steamer with a group of explorers searching the Florida Everglades for the Fountain of Youth.

However, as can be expected, nothing and nobody are quite what they seem to be; and why does the crew – along with Amy and Rory – start to get younger?

The Doctor faces both prehistoric monsters and faulty alien technology to get to the bottom of things.

Horror of the Space Snakes is by Who stalwart Gary Russell and follows the Doctor (without any of his companions) and a group of prize-winning school children on their trip to Moonbase Laika.

However, some of the base’s staff keep disappearing and returning later with no idea of where they have been, and strange bite marks.

Before he left for the Moon, one of the children had been warned of space snakes, but no-one at first believes his warnings.

But what are those things slithering outside on the moon’s surface?

And could the fact that the base was once used by UNIT have something to do with it?

The second book: Step Back in Time, has Extra Time by Richard Dungworth and The Water Thief by Jacqueline Rayner.

The first story takes us, the Doctor, Amy and Rory to London in 1966, and the World Cup Final between England and West Germany.

The three friends then discover that the Doctor isn’t the only alien in London that day, and while Amy helps the Doctor find and fight the aliens, Rory must play a pivotal role in ensuring that history is unchanged and that England still wins the game.

With Amy being chased through London on a Police motorcycle, the adventure builds up to a literally ‘shocking’ finale.

In The Water Thief, the TARDIS arrives in the Sahara on a supposed trip to the sea-side; once they have discovered that they are in Egypt during the early 1900’s, the Doctor, Amy and Rory are befriended by some archaeologists and notice a lethal purple reed.

Whilst Rory remains at the dig and tries to evade the encroaching reeds – which suck every last bit of moisture from everything they touch; the Doctor and Amy travel back to the same location in ancient Egypt in order to get to the root of the problem.

But can they solve it in time?

Apart from the great value – having two books in one – these publications are excellent.

They are easy to read, thereby encouraging the age range they are aimed at to take up reading for pleasure. Plus the pace is quick throughout.

In fact, these stories are more like the TV episodes than most of the other novels that are being issued.

The dialogue between the characters is more accurate, making it easier for the reader to visualise the story.

It is also nice to have the occasional tale in which the Doctor is on his own (Horror of the Space Snakes). It’s not often that the Doctor is alone and it makes a refreshing change.

For older readers, there is the added pleasure of the odd reference to previous adventures, even a nod to Jaws, and especially in the case of Extra Time, some excellent historical fact.

These books are obviously targeted at promoting the joy of reading amongst the younger fans of the show, and in my opinion are very successful at doing it.

Such is the aforementioned pacing of the action, you really don’t want to put them down.

In a word – superb.

Monstrous Missions: ISBN 978 – 1 – 40590 – 804 – 7 Step Back in Time: ISBN 978 – 1 – 40590 – 805 – 4