A forgotten door on an abandoned railway platform is the entrance to a magical kingdom–an island where humans live happily with feys, mermaids, ogres, and other wonderful creatures. Carefully hidden from the world, the Island is only accessible when the door opens for nine days every nine years. A lot can go wrong in nine days. When the beastly Mrs. Trottle kidnaps the prince of the Island, it’s up to a strange band of rescuers to save him. But can an ogre, a hag, a wizard, and a fey really troop around London unnoticed? (goodreads.com)
My sister-in-law bought a copy of The Secret of Platform 13 and recommended that I give it a try since I like fantasy stories. After reading the book I feel like any younger fantasy reader would really enjoy this book.
The book is meant for children between 9 and 12; however, I think it would be appropriate for even younger children. The story has a very simple plot with a few, easily predictable (for adults anyway) twists along the way. I loved the easy to read writing style and the dialogue between all the characters. There are also many funny parts to the story as well! Throughout the book there is only some minor violence. Someone has a gun and attempts to use it, and another person tries to kill someone with a super sharp knitting needle. However, no one dies, and these parts can be skipped or rewritten if necessary.
The alternate world in which the prince is from sounds very interesting and I would have liked to know more about it. I wish more time would have been spent there. However, well over half of the story’s setting is in London. Despite this setback it was still a great story.
On another note….a lot of people seem to think this book is a lot like Harry Potter. I can see some similarities including the platform at a train station in London, the young orphan boy, and very minor similarities between some characters, but not much other than that. People say Rowling took tons of ideas from this book to create her Harry Potter series, but I don’t think she took as much as people believe. Only some very minor similarities. I think if younger children want to read Harry Potter and you don’t believe they are ready for that yet, then this would be a great book to give them.
My favorite parts of the book were the characters and creatures. I loved how descriptive the author was with her characters and their personalities! Even the creatures had their own personalities! It is easy to fall in love with some of the characters (or just very much dislike them) and any child will be able to imagine what they are like based upon all the detail the author provides. Providing this amount of detail also made it easy for me to distinguish between the many characters in the story, which is a problem that many other children’s books have when there are more than two or three characters. Though there are many of the typical creatures in this story, the author adds some of her own as well, and they were a great addition to the story. The mistmakers are definitely my favorite!
I’m having a hard time deciding how well I liked this novel. I think because it was incredibly simple and predictable I am having a hard time giving it 4 stars. I have read many other children’s books that are even more entertaining than this one. I liked the book, but I don’t know that I would ever read it again. However, I recommend reading it at least once. It’s a great book to read aloud to children before bed! I know I would have really enjoyed this when I was younger. If anything it is worth reading because of the characters! Loved them!
My rating: 3.5/5 stars!
A list of Eva Ibbotson’s other books for children and adults
The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson (irisonbooks.com)
The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson – review (theguardian.com)
The Secret of Platform 13 (cityyearbostonblog.com)
The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson – review (theguardian.com)
Book Review: The Great Ghost Rescue by Eva Ibbotson (readerlymusings.com)
The Secret Countess by Eva Ibbotson (springfieldseniorlibrary.wordpress.com)
A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson (bruises16.wordpress.com)
The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson – review (theguardian.com)
Quick Thoughts: The Secret of Platform 13 (thecheapreader.wordpress.com)
*photo provided wikipedia.org