132 The Vile Village

vilevillageby Lemony Snicket, 2001

Things are starting to heat up for the Baudelaires! We’re still using the same formula as ever: the siblings are placed in the care of some well-meaning but less than apt adult, Count Olaf shows up in a new disguise, and the orphans end up having to save themselves. In this case, however, an entire village fails the three, as the moniker “It takes a village to raise a child” is put to the test in their new home, the Village of Fowl Devotees. Or, if you will, VFD.

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111 The Austere Academy

austereacademyby Lemony Snicket, 2000

Fifth verse, same as the first. Snicket has yet to deviate from formula in The Austere Academy, the fifth book in A Series of Unfortunate Events, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still enjoyable to read. In this installment we see the Baudelaire orphans transferred to the care of yet another idiotic adult, a Vice Principal Nero at Prufrock Preparatory School. The three are expected to do ridiculous things – Violet to memorize the stories of the boring Mr. Remora, Klaus to measure all the objects Mrs. Bass demands, and Sunny to serve as Nero’s administrative assistant – and no one believes them when they insist that the new, amazing Coach Genghis is really Count Olaf in disguise. To be honest, I’d have tired of this by now if it weren’t for Snicket’s cleverness, which continues to permeate each one of his stories.

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109 The Miserable Mill

miserablemillby Lemony Snicket, 2000

I remember from my first reading of these books that they become somewhat formulaic. We have certainly reached that point as there is little to distinguish the plot of The Miserable Mill from those that have come before it. The Baudelaire orphans are again placed in the care of an ignorant adult, Count Olaf dons a disguise in an attempt to capture them, no one believes the orphans when they insist that he has found them, and then eventually Olaf’s evil plan is unveiled and he escapes to scheme another day. This doesn’t mean that the Series is any less fun to read for its reliance on a tried and true formula, but it does render them less new and exciting as the tale winds on. Continue reading

100 The Wide Window

widewindowby Lemony Snicket, 2000

We’re back with the Baudelaires! At this point in the series, the stories are still pretty formulaic. The siblings are placed with another well-meaning, but short-sighted adult, Count Olaf schemes to kidnap them and steal their fortune, and the intrepid youngsters have to save their own butts. This time they are placed with grammar-loving Aunt Josephine, whose house overlooks Lake Lachrymose and whose husband was bled to death by the Lachrymose Leeches. Owing to these traumatic events, Josephine is fearful of nearly everything and does little to offer the Baudelaires the safe home they deserve.

Reminder: spoilers!

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98 The Reptile Room

reptile-roomby Lemony Snicket, 1999

On to Book the Second! (Remember, there will be spoilers in these reviews.) We rejoin our intrepid heroes, the Baudelaire siblings, as they’re placed with another relative. This time their guardian is their uncle Dr. Montgomery Montgomery, a leading scientist in the world of herpetology. For the first time since their parents’ death, Baudelaires feel safe in Uncle Monty’s home and each are encouraged to do what they love most – Violet has large sheets of paper on her bedroom walls for inventing, Klaus finds lots of books to read, and Sunny gets her teeth on all manner of objects. It’s not until the mysterious Stephano arrives to fill in for Uncle Monty’s departed assistant that the air of safety is shattered – it’s none other than Count Olaf in one of his disguises, coming again to get his hands on the Baudelaire fortune.

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95 The Bad Beginning

badbeginningby Lemony Snicket, 1999

I don’t remember where I first saw the A Series of Unfortunate Events books, only that their presence caught my eye. Hardbacked without a dust jacket, deckle edged pages, a book plate on the inside cover, and beautiful artwork throughout, they were everything that physically appealed to me about books. They were clearly made by and for someone who loved the act of reading and the story contained within proved this to be true.

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