Lemony Snicket (or whatever his name is) accomplishes in A Series of Unfortunate Events what all writers should attempt—he reshapes traditional storytelling to his own purposes. The result is wildly entertaining and timeless.
These are for children. They chronicle the adventures of orphaned kiddos investigating their parents' untimely demise (or was it a timely demise?), and involve things like a person so fat its gender cannot be determined, mushrooms that grow in the lungs and cause death within minutes, a baby who swordfights a vicious count, and signs made from chewing gum.
BUT this is only the Face Value (a phrase which here means only those elements which can be seen without looking beyond the surface). Snicket (a.k.a., Daniel Handler) crams so many literary references into each page of his sad saga that even the most attentive English major will miss a few.
He's also hilarious, imaginative, and a fine wordsmith. Some readers don't like the conclusion of the concluding volume; however, it's one of the most consistent endings to any series, ever. That's all there is to say on that subject. If you're looking for things to be "wrapped up" in the traditional sense, you'd better find a different series.
And yes, the Baudelaire orphans have it bad. This really is A Series of Unfortunate Events, and it becomes more unfortunate the longer it lasts. Snicket doesn't moralize—the Baudelaires are children of character, but their escapes from the evil Count Olaf are just more realistic portrayals of childhood than the sugary versions in other books.
- Bad Beginning
- Reptile Room
- Wide Window
- Miserable Mill
- Austere Academy
- Ersatz Elevator
- Vile Village
- Hostile Hospital
- Carnivorous Carnival
- Slippery Slope
- Grim Grotto
- Penultimate Peril
- The End
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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