If you have just picked up this book, then it is not too late to put it back down. Like the previous books in A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS, there is nothing to be found in these pages but misery, despair and discomfort, and you still have time to choose something else to read.
Within the chapters of this story, Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire encounter a darkened staircase, a red herring, some friends in a dire situation, three mysterious initials, a liar with an evil scheme, a secret passageway and parsley soda.
I have sworn to write down these tales of the Baudelaire orphans so the general public will know each terrible thing that has happened to them, but if you decide to read something else instead, you will save yourself from a heapful of horror and woe.
With all due respect,
I couldn’t remember much about this particular chapter in the lives of the Baudelaire orphans when I picked up the book this morning. In fact, even when I was halfway through the book and frantically searching my memory for where on earth Count Olaf was hiding if he left the Squalor apartment but didn’t make it downstairs to the front door but, for the life of me, I just couldn’t remember. I was glad though, because it meant every twist and turn in this depressing tale hit me just as hard as it would have hit twelve year old me back in the day when I first read this woeful tale.
The plot of this particular episode in the lives of our heroes was incredibly intriguing. The introduction of the mysterious V.F.D. and the desperate plight of the Quagmire Triplets helped to create a unique sense of urgency and pace in the novel that drew the reader right through until the last page and beyond. It took a great amount of self control to be able to pace myself and, upon finishing this book, ignore the next one long enough to write this. I think what attracted to me most was the appearance of a new and interesting villain. The character of Esme Squalor was brilliant and really helped to pull the action along as the big reveal towards the end of her underhand villainy was a plot twist big enough to banish any thoughts of putting the book down for a short break. In fact, what I really liked about her as a character is that at first you consider her just a bad person but not sinister in any way thanks to her blunt rudeness that you think her mind is far too occupied with fashion and trends for her to be of any real help or hindrance. So, as a reader, you put her to the back of your mind and categorize her in a similar way to Sir in ‘The Miserable Mill’, harmless and useless. But that’s not the case and so when the part to play she had in Olaf’s newest scheme is revealed you can’t help but feel incredibly foolish that you didn’t see it before.
This this book also features, albeit briefly, the Quagmire Triplets Duncan and Isadora who are undoubtedly two of my favourite characters. Although they didn’t get much of a part to play considering they spent most of the book in a cage in a secret hideout and the rest hidden away inside a giant statue of a salmon it was still wonderful to know that they were indeed alive and still together and that Olaf hadn’t already disposed of them after getting his grubby hands on their fortune. The fact that they were still desperately finding out all they could about the mysterious V.F.D. and Olaf’s scheme was heartening and I couldn’t help but root for them throughout their small guest appearance.
To summarise, I loved the pace of this story and just how engaging the writing and events were. It was so good in fact, that I’m going to go and start on the seventh installment of the record of the Baudelaire’s miserable lives right now.