I’m starting to appreciate these more. Maybe I’m in a better place mentally, but this batch (The Miserable Mill, The Austere Academy and The Ersatz Elevator) weren’t quite as draining as the first three (The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room and The Wide Window).
We once again join the Baudelaire orphans as they are about to meet their new guardian and of course it’s going to be horrible, that’s a given. But what I wasn’t expecting was how much this book would sort of set me off. I mean I knew it would because of the other books in the series. Snicket is using these books to talk about things we don’t talk about anymore: child marriage, child labor, abandonment and neglect. It’s still a lot to take in but looking at it through this lens has really helped me appreciate the books a lot more than I originally did.
What I haven’t really figured out is whether these books are trying to say trust strangers more than your family/guardian. It’s a fine line in that all of these people are strangers to the Baudelaires. When it’s always the person who is even once more removed who seems to make sense and yet can’t do anything (in this instance Charles, the partner of the Baudelaire’s guardian), it’s like wait what? I’m not going anywhere with it, but it’s what I was thinking about.
The series does seem to be picking up on violence a bit. From a murder and a staged murder to an actual dismemberment by, you guessed it, a lumber saw, it’s getting pretty gruesome.
Recommendation: Read them back-to-back. They’re short enough that you can get through the first three or four pretty quickly. It feels like the story is coming together and going to actually start making sense and will engage me more now.
Opening Line: “Sometime during your life—in fact, very soon—you may find yourself reading a book, and you may notice that a book’s first sentence can often tell you what sort of story your book contains.”
Closing Line: “The Baudelaire orphans were alive, and it seemed that maybe they had an inordinate amount of luck after all.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers, highlight to read.)