Literature: The Secret of Platform 13
The Secret of Platform 13
is a children's book by Eva Ibbotson. Inside the abandoned Platform 13 in King's Cross Railway Station lies the Gump, an ancient and magical secret passage. Every nine years it opens to take those who wish to leave the world behind for the mythical island known as...The Island. The Queen gives birth to a son the year the Gump opens again and after the Prince's three nannies are overcome with homesickness, she allows them to take the Prince with them for a brief visit to our world.
What they don't count on is running into Mrs. Trottle
, who desperately wants to have a baby...even if it means turning to kidnapping.
Nine years later, a young hag named Odge learns about the rescue mission being planned by the King to bring home his son, who has been raised by Mrs. Trottle as her son, Raymond. After much convincing she joins the appointed rescuers—Cornelius the wizard, Gerkintrude the fey and Hans the (temporarily invisible) giant—in their journey to London. Their task will not be as easy as they thought however, as Raymond is not only constantly protected, but is also an extreme Royal Brat
. Though they find immeasurable help from Ben, the grandson of Raymond's former nanny, and the many magical creatures in hiding, will it be enough to bring the Prince back to the Island before time runs out?
- Adaptational Heroism: The Nuckelavee, who seems to be benign or at least fairly harmless (and is driven away when Raymond insults it). In the original folklore that the creature appears in, it is much more nightmarish.
- Adult Fear: One of the reasons the nanny fights so hard to stay alive is that she knows full well she's the only person left to protect Ben from Mrs. Trottle. After she dies, two very creepy men are sent by Mrs. Trottle to forcibly take Ben to a Boarding School of Horrors.
- As horrible as Mrs. Trottle is, she gets subjected to this trope when she finds out that a group of strange people have been secretly meeting her son and trying to convince him to run away with them. Her first assumption - which is not unreasonable - is that they were planning to kidnap him.
- Ambiguously Human: Many of the Island's unusual creatures, which is why they can move or travel around London without being noticed. The rescuers were specifically chosen with this in mind.
- Cute Witch: Subverted in name only. Odge is a hag with powers such as making people go bald, but unlike her sisters, she's considered pretty.
- Death Bed Confession: In the hospital, Nanny Brown writes Ben a note to be read after her death. It reveals that he was kidnapped as a baby, cluing Odge to the fact that he's the real Prince.
- Doting Parent: Mrs. Trottle. She's many things, but she pulls out all the stops to make Raymond happy, even if that's exactly how he became such a brat.
- Evil Is Petty: The main reason Mrs. Trottle makes Ben's life so miserable? She hates that he outshines her precious child in any way.
- Fat Bastard: Both Raymond and his mother are examples of this.
- Food Porn: The meal that, unfortunately, Raymond Trottle is eating when the travelers follow him around town. Given the most attention is the knickerbocker glory.
- Gentle Giant: Hans.
- Good Is Not Nice: The harpies, hags and other monsters on the Island, who serve as something like a police force—if you do something wrong, they deal with you, and chances are you'll never repeat your mistake.
- Granola Girl: Gurkintrude. Being a fey, she has an even stronger connection to nature.
- Harping on About Harpies
- Have I Mentioned I Am a Dwarf Today: Melisande is a water nymph, not a mermaid. She keeps pointing to her feet to prove it.
- Jumping Out of a Cake: The hotel Mrs. Trottle and Raymond hide at has a dinner act where a girl leaps out of a fake cake and does a dance of the seven veils for the patrons. When the rescuers try to get closer without alerting Mrs. Trottle, one of the things they do is pay off the dancing girl and have Gertrude take her place.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: Mrs. Trottle cannot get pregnant, so she eventually decides to adopt a child—and, when she realizes there's a waiting list, resorts to stealing one. She finds out she's pregnant shortly afterward and makes Nanny Brown raise the kidnapped child instead.
- Magical Seventh Son: Odge is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter. Her mother expected her to be an especially terrifying child; to her disappointment, Odge wound out being the least hag-like of her children.
- Mama Bear: A villainous example in Mrs. Trottle.
- Modest Royalty: The royal king and queen of the Island. Their mansion is even open to any guests who want to stay a night or two.
- At the end, Ben is this as well. He sets up a guest room for Odge, so she can live in the mansion with him, fixing it up with bat-themed wallpaper and a door for the pet mistmaker she gave him.
- My Biological Clock Is Ticking: The main reason why Mrs. Trottle kidnaps the Prince after adoption doesn't work out.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: Subverted with the former nanny, who really doesn't want to help Mrs. Trottle kidnap a baby. She ends up going along with it not out of loyalty, but because Mrs. Trottle threatens to frame her for the kidnapping if she doesn't comply.
- Never Mess with Granny: One of Raymond's bodyguards is a little old woman who spends most of her time sewing. With very long, sharp needles, and she knows exactly what points on the body they'd be most effective.
- Nice Guy: Ben.
- Nice to the Waiter: One key difference between the royalty on the Island and the Trottles.
- Raised by Grandparents: Ben was raised by his grandmother, Nanny Brown. Subverted because she's not his real grandmother.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: The mistmakers!
- Rich Bitch: Mrs. Trottle.
- Royal Brat / Spoiled Brat: Raymond Trottle, the whole deal: tantrums, the room of broken toys, disrespect to anyone who isn't his mother, and there's nothing anyone can do about it since his parents are incredibly rich.
- Same-Sex Triplets: Lily, Rose, and Violet.
- Scare 'Em Straight: Mrs. Trottle to Raymond after the magical show the Islanders put for him, and he starts wanting to go to the Island.
- Strange Secret Entrance: The eponymous Platform 13.
- Theme Triplet Naming: Lily, Rose, and Violet.
- They Have the Scent: Not said word for word, though. How the Islanders find Mrs. Trottle—through the powerful smell of her custom-made perfume, Maneater, in the sewers.
- Villainous Glutton: While out at lunch with his mother Raymond orders fried prawns, soup, roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, fries, and an ice-cream sundae. Other times when he is out he is usually seen downing more.