If you have not encountered the Baudelaire orphans and their unhappy tale before, I am not sure you should be reading a volume which contains not one but three tales of misery and woe. From the very first page, Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire, three charming and quick-witted youngsters, are pursued by bad luck and horrible experiences. Even the brief moments of happiness in their lives swiftly dissolve into misfortune.
The very book you are holding includes within it’s depressing pages a greedy and impolite villain, cold porridge for breakfast, a deadly serpent, a trip to Peru, hungry leeches and a doll named Pretty Penny.
I have pledged to bring these tragic tales to the public, but you are free to put this book down at once, and look for something more cheerful, if you prefer that sort of thing.
With all due respect,
This is a fantastically unique series for younger readers. Snicket actually becomes like a character himself, as he narrates the unhappy tale of Violet, Klaus and Sunny – possibly three of the most unstereotypical YA characters you will ever read – as though talking directly to the reader.
Violet is fourteen and an inventor, able to build useful contraptions and devices out of almost anything. Klaus, ‘a little older than twelve’ is very intelligent and reads a lot, while Sunny enjoys biting things (a very useful talent – as you will come to see). After the tragic death of their parents (their house very quickly and seemingly spontaneously, burns down), they are shipped of to an array of increasingly eccentric distant relatives, all the while pursued by the determined and slightly unhinged, Count Olaf, who wants their fortune for himself.
A Series of Unfortunate Events is a real treat – filled with bizarre and delightfully random adventures and multiple character deaths, each one more strange than the next (one character, ditzy Aunt Josephine, is amusingly charmed by a (very badly) disguised Count Olaf before meeting a rather sticky end, death by leeches), all told with an Edward Gory-esque dark humour and dry wit.
A great read for both adults and children – this is a lovely little series – perfect for parents to read with their children, or even just alone.