Believathon 2 – The Secret of Platform 13

Having set off from the Poacher’s Pocket with Lemony Snicket’s Bad Beginning and travelled along the Yellow Brick Road with Diana Wynne-Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle, then through the Hundred Acre Wood with Polly Ho-Yen‘s The Boy in the Tower, I reached The Brolly Rail.

Here the prompt was to read a book with transportation on the cover, so I chose Eva Ibbotson’s The Secret of Platform 13.

Platform 13 is home to a gump; a sort of portal between King’s Cross Station and a lost island inhabited by every kind of mythical, magical, weird and wonderful creature you could imagine.

The gump only opens once every nine years though, so nine years after the baby prince is kidnapped in London, the King and Queen of the Island send an unlikely group of rescuers through to bring him home. However, all does not go quite according to plan…

This was a really enjoyable read and one which would be brilliant for younger or less confident MG readers too – those just moving on from early chapter books for example, especially now there’s a new 25th Anniversary illustrated edition, or those who love a bit of magic and wonder but nothing complex or convoluted.

This has a really timeless feel about it – it feels like a quintessential children’s book (and with much borrowing from JK Rowling for Harry Potter, I’d say that she thought so too), with a classic feel. It’s very much all about the adventure; the cast of characters is a well of imaginative, unique beings, but there’s little depth to them – this is a book driven by plot. It makes use of some classic tropes too – the greedy, spoiled brat and doting mother, the prince and the pauper, the black sheep of a family finding her place, the last minute twist.

It skips along with plenty of humour and action and was an enjoyable read. It’s probably not one I’d rant and rave about, but it is one I’d recommend highly to the right readers in work, and as a quick, light-hearted comfort read it was perfect.

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