Literally my favorite children’s gothic fiction novel series of all time. The first book I ever FINISHED reading was The Reptile Room. I only managed to read like a few chapters of The Bad Beginning. There are 12 books, and I love em all! The situation that I’m dealing with is Lemony Snicket!

I mean with every book you can’t even see his FACE! And guess what? I found out that Lemony Snicket was just a stupid pen-name for some Daniel Handler guy. That made me real mad; Lemony doesn’t exist?!?! But still, give him the credit. He’s an amazing author! 😀

Make no mistake. The Bad Beginning begins badly for the three Baudelaire children, and then gets worse. Their misfortunes begin one gray day on Briny Beach when Mr. Poe tells them that their parents perished in a fire that destroyed their whole house. “It is useless for me to describe to you how terrible Violet, Klaus, and even Sunny felt in the time that followed,” laments the personable (occasionally pedantic) narrator, who tells the story as if his readers are gathered around an armchair on pillows. But of course what follows is dreadful. The children thought it was bad when the well-meaning Poes bought them grotesque-colored clothing that itched. But when they are ushered to the dilapidated doorstep of the miserable, thin, unshaven, shiny-eyed, money-grubbing Count Olaf, they know that they–and their family fortune–are in real trouble. Still, they could never have anticipated how much trouble.

The Reptile Room begins where Lemony Snicket’s The Bad Beginning ends… on the road with the three orphaned Baudelaire children as they are whisked away from the evil Count Olaf to face “an unknown fate with some unknown relative.” But who is this Dr. Montgomery, their late father’s cousin’s wife’s brother? “Would Dr. Montgomery be a kind person? they wondered. Would he at least be better than Count Olaf? Could he possibly be worse?” He certainly is not worse, and in fact when the Baudelaire children discover that he makes coconut cream cakes, circles the globe looking for snakes to study, and even plans to take them with him on his scientific expedition to Peru, the kids can’t believe their luck. And, if you have read the first book in this Series of Unfortunate Events, you won’t believe their luck either.

In The Bad Beginning, things, well, begin badly for the three Baudelaire orphans. And sadly, events only worsen in The Reptile Room. In the third in Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, there is still no hope on the horizon for these poor children. Their adventures are exciting and memorable, but, as the author points out, “exciting and memorable like being chased by a werewolf through a field of thorny bushes at midnight with nobody around to help you.”

This story begins when the orphans are being escorted by the well-meaning Mr. Poe to yet another distant relative who has agreed to take them in since their parents were killed in a horrible fire. Aunt Josephine, their new guardian, is their second cousin’s sister-in-law, and she is afraid of everything. Her house (perched precariously on a cliff above Lake Lachrymose) is freezing because she is afraid of the radiator exploding, she eats cold cucumber soup because she’s afraid of the stove, and she doesn’t answer the telephone due to potential electrocution dangers. Her greatest joy in life is grammar, however, and when it comes to the proper use of the English language, she is fearless.

But just when she should be the most fearful–when Count Olaf creeps his way back to find the Baudelaire orphans and steal their fortune–she somehow lets her guard down. Once again, it is up to Violet, Klaus, and Sunny to get themselves out of danger. Will they succeed? We haven’t the stomach to tell you.

“The Baudelaire orphans looked out the grimy window of the train and gazed at the gloomy blackness of the Finite Forest, wondering if their lives would ever get better,” begins The Miserable Mill. If you have been introduced to the three Baudelaire orphans in any of Lemony Snicket’s previous novels, you know that not only will their lives not get better, they will get much worse. In the fourth installment in the “Series of Unfortunate Events,” the sorrowful siblings, having once again narrowly escaped the clutches of the evil Count Olaf, are escorted by the kindly but ineffectual Mr. Poe to their newest “home” at the Lucky Smells Lumbermill. Much to their horror (if not surprise), their dormitory at the mill is crowded and damp, they are forced to work with spinning saw blades, they are fed only one meal a day (not counting the chewing gum they get for lunch), and worst of all, Count Olaf lurks in a dreadful disguise as Shirley the receptionist just down the street. Not even the clever wordplay and ludicrous plot twists could keep this story buoyant–reading about the mean-spirited foreman, the deadly blades, poor Klaus (hypnotized and “reprogrammed”), and the relentless hopelessness of the children’s situation only made us feel gloomy.

In The Austere Academy, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are at first optimistic–attending school is a welcome change for the book-loving trio, and the academy is allegedly safe from the dreaded Count Olaf, who is after their fortune. Hope dissipates quickly, however, when they meet Vice Principal Nero, a self-professed genius violinist who sneeringly imitates their every word. More dreadful still, he houses them in the tin Orphans Shack, crawling with toe-biting crabs and dripping with a mysterious tan fungus. A beam of light shines through the despair when the Baudelaires meet the Quagmires, two of three orphaned triplets who are no strangers to disaster and sympathize with their predicament. When Count Olaf appears on the scene disguised as Coach Genghis (covering his monobrow with a turban and his ankle tattoo with expensive running shoes), the Quagmires resolve to come to the aid of their new friends. Sadly, this proves to be a hideous mistake.

As the book begins, the Baudelaires are not only frightened in anticipation of their next (inevitable) encounter with the evil, moneygrubbing Count Olaf but they are also mourning the disappearance of their dear new friends from The Austere Academy, the Quagmires. It doesn’t take long for Olaf to show up in another of his horrific disguises… but if he is on Dark Avenue, what has he done with the Quagmires? Once again, the resourceful orphans use their unique talents (Violet’s inventions, Klaus’s research skills, and the infant Sunny’s strong teeth) in a fruitless attempt to escape from terrible tragedy. Is there a gleam of hope for the orphans and their new friends? Most certainly not.

The seventh book in Lemony Snicket’s splendidly gloomy Series of Unfortunate Events shadows the three Baudelaire orphans as they plummet headlong into their next misadventure. Mr. Poe, their ineffective legal guardian, having exhausted all options for finding them a new home with relatives (including their 19th cousin), sadly entrusts his young charges’ fate to a progressive guardian program formed with the premise “It takes a village to raise a child.” Before they know it, the Baudelaires are being whisked off on a bus to a village (vile) named “V.F.D.” Snicket fans who read The Austere Academy and The Ersatz Elevator will jump to see these three initials, as they provide a clue to the tragic disappearance of the Baudelaires’ friends, the beloved, equally orphaned Quagmire triplets. To the orphans’ dismay, V.F.D. is covered in crows–so much so that the whole village is pitch-black and trembling. “The crows weren’t squawking or cawing, which is what crows often do, or playing the trumpet, which crows practically never do, but the town was far from silent. The air was filled with the sounds the crows made as they moved around.” Another disturbing element of the town is that the Council of Elders (who wear creepy crow hats) has thousands of rules, such as “don’t hurt crows” and “don’t build mechanical devices.” Fortunately, the Baudelaires are taken in by a kindly handyman named Hector who cooks them delicious Mexican food and secretly breaks rules. Still, neither Hector nor an entire village can protect the orphans from the clutches of the money-grubbing Count Olaf, who has relentlessly pursued them (actually, just their fortune) since The Bad Beginning.

As you might expect, nothing but woe befalls the unlucky Baudelaire orphans in the eighth grim tale in Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events that began with The Bad Beginning. Ever since the orphans’ photographs were plastered across the front page of The Daily Punctilio in an article falsely accusing them of murder, they have been on the run. Only when they disguise themselves as cheerful hospital volunteers (Volunteers Fighting Disease, to be exact), do they see a possible refuge. Of course, this backfires hideously. Where is their ineffectual guardian, Mr. Poe, when they need him most? Will the evil, greedy Count Olaf be successful in giving poor Violet a cranioectomy at the Heimlich Hospital? Is a heart-shaped balloon really better than water for a thirsty patient? Is no news really good news?

This installment in the woeful tale of the unlucky Baudelaire orphans takes them (via the trunk of Count Olaf’s car, unbeknownst to him) to the Caligari Carnival in the middle of the hinterlands. Madame Lulu has used her crystal ball in the past to help him find the children after their narrow escapes, but this time he also wants her to discern the truth about whether or not either of their parents is still alive. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny disguise themselves as freaks so that they can stay at the carnival and hopefully get to the crystal ball before the Count does. They suffer the indignation of performing in their new roles, face off a bloodthirsty mob, and escape from a pit of hungry lions. New and deviously entertaining characters are added to the cast, including Kevin the ambidextrous man, Colette the contortionist, and Hugo the hunchback.

What would you do if you found yourself trapped in a runaway caravan hurtling down a precipitous mountain slope? Fourteen-year-old Violet, the oldest orphan of the three Baudelaires, decides to try to slow the velocity of the caravan with a drag-chute invention involving a viscous combination of blackstrap molasses, maple syrup, maraschino liqueur, peanut butter, etc. If plummeting to their death weren’t scary enough, Violet and her brother Klaus have been separated from Sunny, their baby sister who is in a car headed in the opposite direction up the mountain with the “facinorous” Count Olaf, his “villainous and stylish” girlfriend Esmé Squalor, and their creepy sidekicks. Do Violet and Klaus find Sunny on the mountain? How will they survive the treacherous, snow-covered peaks with not much more than a ukulele and a bread knife, especially in the face of the “organized, ill-tempered” snow gnats? Will they finally unearth the mystery of the V.F.D.? Will they find out if one of their parents is alive after all? The suspense! As ever, the Baudelaires’ unfolding tale of woe is sprinkled with Lemony Snicket’s ridiculous, hilarious observations such as “Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant with odd waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like.”

This episode of Lemony Snicket’s continuing saga of the Baudelaire orphans (HarperCollins, 2004), finds them on a sled in the Stricken Stream. They are spotted by blustery Captain Widdershins of the submarine Queequegand taken aboard. Violet, Claus, and Sunny, dressed in diving suits with Herman Melville’s picture on the front, meet the captain’s bookish step-daughter, Fiona and the overly-optimistic cook, Phil (from the Lucky Smells Lumberyard). The crew sets out to find a lucky sugar bowl. They arrive at the fearsome Gorgonian Grotto, Sunny is attacked by a poisonous mushroom, leaving her gasping for breath. And, to make matters worse, the crew runs into the clutches of the villainous Count Olaf, the slick and chic Esme Squalor, and the bratty Carmelita Spats. Will the Baudelaires find an antidote to save Sunny? Will they escape from Count Olaf, Esme Squalor, and Carmelita Spats’ horrid singing? Will they find the sugar bowl?

“Book the Twelfth,” second to last in the fantastically popular A Series of Unfortunate Events, reunites the beleaguered Baudelaire orphans with a host of characters from previous adventures as they gather at Hotel Denouement (with rooms organized according to the Dewey decimal system) to await the delivery of–the sugar bowl. Well, fans will get the drift, despite the fact that this inventive go-round seems more dizzying and stuffed with definitions than usual. But even as the series draws to a close, new questions arise–the most important one being, are the kids valorous volunteers or villains after all?

(Notice that the name isn’t alliterative LOL :O)

After a singularly bad beginning, the Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, have finally reached the end.The question is, will Book the Thirteenth in A Series of Unfortunate Events meet the expectations of the series’ myriad fans? Snicket might put it a somewhat different way: if end simply means to cease, the answer is yes. If, however, end means to complete, the answer is most assuredly no–because though Snicket neatly clips numerous threads in the tragic saga, he leaves others literally fluttering in the breeze. As with the previous books, this one begins where its predecessor left off, with the orphans and the villainous Count Olaf afloat on dangerous open seas. When a storm blows their craft ashore, kindly islanders welcome the orphans, but Olaf is an outcast. Have the children finally found the longed-for “last safe place on earth?” Not so fast . . . before long, they are once again scrambling to avert disaster and death (“Kikbucit,” as Sunny puts it when a couple of characters are terminated).

If you read any of these books, tell me and tell me how the book was like! I can’t read 200-page books LOL! (My parents won’t let me anyway :()

So there’s enough misfortune. Now go before more bad things happen.

Sam

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