Secrets, Platforms, Bizarre Britishisms

The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson. Dutton, 1994.

Rich and fun fantasy. Ibbotson starts off with quaint Brittishisms, ghosts, and secret doors to other worlds. What’s not to love? Loads of fantastical invention and a heavy dose of political correctness. Atmospheric with a distant 3rd person narrator, similar in voice to others like Charlotte’s Web, Tuck Everlasting, a storybook voice that’s lolling and gentle, saying “come along for a story, children.”

  • There’s no mad rush to get the action going at the start. Too bad children are so impatient and discriminating that they won’t bother with such a slow beginning (note sarcasm). In my experience, children are far more tolerant of lousy writing/boring books than adults. Not that this is lousy or boring. Much to the contrary.
  • Wonderful use of jump cuts/scene breaks and such, and phrases like pancakes “warm as puppies,” make me salivate. 
  • A strange, Dursley-like character (Harry Potter). 
  • Deft use of POV. Note the selection from pp. 91-92: We were in a rather distant 3rd narration, then a new paragraph, “Raymond was still staring at the little creature. No one at school had anything like that. He’d be able to show it off to everyone. Paul had a tree frog and Derek had a grass snake, but this would beat them all.” Clearly diving into Raymond’s head, then pulling back out again with the voice of another character speaking. 
  • Handbags of Harpies. HA! And the various scenes weave together brilliantly. Mrs. T’s perfume down the drain giving away her location, etc. All around fun!