If you have picked up this book with the hope of finding a simple and cheery tale, I’m afraid you have picked up the wrong book altogether. The story may seem cheery at first, when the Baudelaire children spend time in the company of some interesting reptiles and a giddy uncle, but don’t be fooled. If you know anything at all about the Baudelaire children, you already know that even pleasant events lead down the same road to misery.
In fact, within the pages you now hold in your hands, the three siblings endure a car accident, a terrible smell, a deadly serpent, a long knife, a large brass reading lamp, and the re-appearance of a person they’d hoped never to see again.
I am bound to record these tragic events, but you are free to put this book back on the shelf and seek something lighter.
With all due respect,
‘The Reptile Room’ has always been one of the books in the ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ book series that stuck out in my mind. The fantastic image of Uncle Monty’s brilliant house at the end of Lousy Lane with its glass reptile room and snake shaped hedges has been one of the overarching images to stay with me over the years.
As soon as I first reopened the pages of this book I felt like I was immediately drawn back a number of years, back to when I was a child and I ate up these books, reading them one after the other over and over again. I loved the character of Monty so much and I found it so genuinely shocking and painful when he was murdered. It opened my eyes to just how much of a horrific villain Olaf was. Until then he was just full of sick schemes but this book really cemented his role as an evil villain capable of murder.
Once again the incredibly distinctive and entertaining writing style of Lemony Snicket comes into its own and helps to create a brilliantly individual tone that makes the stories so captivating. His unique and intelligent style helps to make an instant rapport with the reader and makes reading the depressing events in the lives of the Baudelaire orphans far more interesting and easy to do.
One thing I really love about this chapter in the Baudelaire’s misery is that Sunny seems to really come into her own. In ‘The Bad Beginning’ Sunny has the worst time of all the orphans as she is threatened numerous times and tied up and kept in a cage hanging outside a tall tower for more than a night. But, in ‘The Reptile Room’, Sunny saves the day by distracting the adults, including Mr Poe and Count Olaf, by playing with the Incredibly Deadly Viper which also has the dual purpose of proving the Vipers good nature and proclaiming it’s innocence of killing Monty.
All in all I really love this book and although it probably isn’t my favourite of the series it is up there, especially as Monty is one of the only guardians who truly looks after the Baudelaires and, although a bit dim for not realising Stephano was Olaf, he was still a genuinely nice person who only wanted to look after the orphans and keep them safe.