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Literature / Room 13

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A 1989 novel by Robert Swindells. The night before a five day overnight school trip to Whitby, North Yorkshire, Fliss Morgan dreams of an empty house wherein lies a coffin. The next morning, the class board a coach, and Fliss settles happily with them into the Crow's Nest hotel for five days of coastal exploration and historical sites. Late that night, Fliss, on her way to the bathroom, sees a previously absent number thirteen engraved on the door of a linen cupboard, and hears whimpering and snuffling sounds from within. Throughout the next few days, Ellie-May Sutherland repeatedly feels drained and giddy. Having heard from Gary Bazzard of the town's connection with Dracula, Fliss starts to worry about the implications of her dream...


This novel features:

  • Adult Fear: A child falls ill for inscrutable reasons.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Rouses Ellie-May to warm up to Fliss, Lisa, Gary and David.
  • Bizarrchitecture: A room houses sheets by day, and by night, something rather more sinister…
  • Broken Masquerade: Behind a tunnel full of gruesome displays in The Dracula Experience, Sal Haggerlythe likens a hidden prop room to the baffling secret workings behind perceived reality.
    Sal: Folks walk through tunnels their whole lives, y’ know. Looking at a show. And all the time, the real world’s just inches away through the wall.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: Frivolous souvenirs acquired respectively by Fliss, Lisa, Gary and David are used to kill the vampire.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Elderly Sal Haggerlythe, generally believed to be mad, has mysteriously precise insights.
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  • Deadpan Snarker: Mr Hepworth gets some good ones.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: On the coach, Mrs Evans disciplines a seat kicker by painfully wrenching a handful of the kid’s hair.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Fliss, to her increasing dread.
  • Eldritch Location: Room 13: harmless linen cupboard by day, den of a vampire by night.
  • Empathic Environment: The killing of the vampire seems to gender general elation the next day.
  • Holy Burns Evil: The plastic frame of David Trotter’s frivolously purchased kite comes in useful…
  • Improvised Weapon: A cheap torch, an absurdly huge stick of rock candy, a large pebble and a flimsy kite.
  • Mad Oracle: Subverted with Sal Haggerlythe, whose mysterious insights apparently give only an impression of madness.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Old Hepworth is severe when provoked, but is conscientiously caring, and even has a sense of humour.
  • Scenery Porn: Some beautiful descriptions of North Yorkshire, mainly Whitby and the nearby coast.
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: The frightening burden that falls upon Fliss, Lisa, Gary and David is very much Played Straight.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Implicitly Sal and Fliss, and by extension, Lisa, David and Gary.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The vampire resident of Room 13.

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