The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson

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Helllllo readers, not the greatest start to my reading year but I’m in a bookish slump. This isn’t where I wanted to be, but the last month or so I’ve been in a bit of a rut. A couple of badly written books, a lack of time to reply to comments, a slight obsession with Prison Break and a really nasty lung infection I just haven’t had the time to read. I’ve therefore done what I do best, go back and read something easy, light, and comfortable – this time it’s a book for a younger reader and one I really enjoy. Eva Ibbotson was one of my favourite authors as a child and I thought there really wouldn’t be a better book to get me back on track with reading – apologies it’s a little old but this book is a lovely read.

Under Platform 13 at Kings Cross Station is hidden a quite remarkable secret. Every nine years a doorway opens to an amazing, fantastical island. Nine years ago, the island’s baby prince was stolen on the streets of London. Now a rescue party, led by a wizard and an ogre, must find him and bring him back. But the kind prince has become a spoilt rich boy, who doesn’t believe in magic and doesn’t want to go home. Can they rescue him before time runs out – and the doorway disappears for ever?


As the blurb suggests the book follows The Secret of Platform 13, this secret being that, on a mystical Island, (we’re never quite given the details where) where humans and magical creatures live harmoniously there is a portal that only opens every nine years, that leads to the London Underground. One day, two nurses are taking the infant Prince out for a walk and are tempted into the portal; letting the Prince out of their sight for a minute the terrible Mrs Trottle snatches the baby for her own. A rescue mission is arranged for nine years later to try to find the lost Prince and bring him back to his home; but is it too late?

So what’s good about this book? I loved the fantastical feel of the writing – this book was actual written before the Harry Potter series and I really feel that this was the book that set me up for my utter adoration for Rowling and her magical books. I loved the inclusion of the feys, witches, trolls, hags, mermaids and wizards; there really is a mismatch of different mystical beings each with their own personalities, special characteristics and additions to the plot-line.

The plot follows the rescue mission lead by a hag named Odge, a giant, a fey and a wizard. For the nine days where the portal is open they try their best to find and bring home the prince but to no avail as there seems to be a confusion as to who is the real prince? Odge here begins to take center stage and she really comes into her own as she struggles to find out who the real prince is. Is it  the spoiled son Trottles or the sweet kind-hearted Grandson. Here we see the group of misfits struggle to decide and with time racing they must make a decision.

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In terms of the writing style it’s got enough description to be interesting and exciting but not so much to bog the reading speed down too much. The book is marketed at children between the ages of 9-12 and that allows for the book to take a slightly darker tone but it’s an enjoyable and funny tale – think a little like Lemony Snicket but a little lighter. Yes the plot is a bit predictable and looking at the reviews many have panned this book for that, but for a younger reader it doesn’t need to be constantly held a secret, as this could cause the reader to become confused and disengaged, so for me it’s right on the mark.

Overall this is a fun book with an intriguing tale – with strong characters, lots of magic and mystery it is the perfect fantasy book for younger readers to get their teeth into. A little predictable but funny, light and exciting with the use of time – a lovely little fantasy read.









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