Originally published as three different books I have the combined version so I am going to discuss each in turn before an overall opinion is expressed
This is the Goodreads blurb and as you can see it mentions each of the three stories
Summer Falls by Amelia Williams
In the seaside village of Watchcombe, young Kate is determined to make the most of her last week of summer holiday. But when she discovers a mysterious painting entitled ‘The Lord of Winter’ in a charity shop, it leads her on an adventure she never could have planned. The painting is a puzzle – and with the help of some bizarre new acquaintances, she plans on solving it.
The Angel’s Kiss by Melody Malone
Detective Melody Malone has an unexpected caller: movie star Rock Railton thinks someone is out to kill him – and when he mentions the ‘kiss of the Angel’, she takes the case. At the press party for Railton’s latest movie, studio owner Max Kliener invites Melody to become their next star. But the cost of fame, she’ll soon discover, is greater than anyone could possibly imagine.
Devil in the Smoke, as recounted by Mr Justin Richards
On a cold day in December, two young boys, tired of sweeping snow from the workhouse yard, decide to build a snowman – and are confronted with a strange and grisly mystery. In horrified fascination, they watch as their snowman begins to bleed… The search for answers to this impossible event will plunge Harry into the most hazardous – and exhilarating – adventure of his life.
First let me say as a print version it works a lot better putting these together than each as an individual book, although they are very different stories, the introduction and final ‘article’ by and about Amelia Williams nee Pond pull them all together and, for really anoraks like me, cause the raising of eyebrows and questions regarding possibilities and continuity, which that damn Moffat bloke seems to enjoy doing.
The first story is notably also the one we see Clara reading in her first proper story as a companion, The Bells Of St John’s, personally of the three I feel it is the weakest, the main characters are all children and it would be more likely to have featured as a Sarah Jane Adventure rather than as a full blown Who story line. The children are annoying and I did not feel invested in them, the cameo of the Doctor as the curator was interesting in light of the Tom Baker appearance in the 50th anniversary special but overall even as a Doctor light episode I would have wanted a refund, I had looke forward to this for a long time and was incredibly disappointed.
Next up the River Song based story, not the one featured in the actual series The Angels Take Manhattan but one which would seem to pre-date that one and leads into the events featured in the actual TV show, the writing for this story is superb and you can really hear Rivers voice as Melody Pond and visualise the action, some of the secondary characters are not so strong but to be honest they are caricatures of a certain time period, as is the story generally, and as a satire/parody it works incredibly well, proving humour while also telling an engaging tale.
Finally the Vastra story, and of the three this is in some-ways the most tantalising of the three as it teases the reader with just how good a Paternoster Gang spin off could be. Set in the Victorian era we associate primarily with the Strax, Vastra, Jenny trio, this was a brilliant crime romp. The characters are well written and given we know them so well you can actually hear them in your own mind as you read. I am more convinced than ever that this would be the perfect children/family spin off to take the place of the Sarah Jane Adventures following the sad loss of Elizabeth Sladen or taken down a darker route rather than as just comic relief to replace Torchwood.
So the marks out of 5 are based on the book as a whole and while I would happily give the final two stories top marks the first on does drag it down, so over all I am giving this 4 out of 5 the intro and final part dragging it up from the 3.5 I was tempted to give based just one the stories alone.