The word “carnivorous” which appears in the title of this book, means “meat-eating,” and once you have read such a bloodthirsty word, there is no reason to read any further. This carnivorous volume contains such a distressing story that consuming any of its contents would be far more stomach-turning than ever the most imbalanced meal.
To avoid causing discomfort, it would be best if I didn’t mention any of the unnerving ingredients of this story, particularly a confusing map, an ambidextrous person, an unruly map, a wooden plank, and Chabo the Wolf Baby.
Sadly for me, my time is filled with researching and recording the displeasing and disenchanting lives of the Baudelaire orphans. But your time might be better filled with something more palatable, such as eating your vegetables, or feeding them to someone else.
We join the dear children where we left them at the end of book eight. There is a large amount of practicality and actual intrigue in this stage of the series. Snicket gets us so close to possibly figuring it all out and there looks like there will be hope for Violet, Klaus and Sunny but then naturally it crumbles. Snicket has gotten better about not totally ruining the entire book plot within the early stages, but also by now you know, being only book nine, nothing good is going to
happen until book 13, maybe not even then.
After escaping their hiding place the children find themselves at a carnival run by fortune teller Madame Lulu who is great friends with Count Olaf. With nowhere to go and the chance of finding out more about their parents and Olaf’s plan they get hired to work at the carnival as freaks as a chance to spy. They manage to blend in with slightly more believability than before with actual props at their disposal. Once again there are no guardians and the children must fend for themselves and Mr Poe hasn’t been seen for awhile which has been good. It is also where we see Olaf as himself for a change, sort of a behind the scenes of his grand schemes.
Whilst at the carnival the children have to perform in the freak show, which itself is filled with absurdness and great hypocrisies. It’s all as degrading as a freak show would be. We see the children grow up a little more through these books too, Klaus was thirteen in Book 7 and now we see Sunny is growing up a bit too.
There were some depressing moments in this book but it is balanced out by the suspense of what the children uncover. Everything has changed so much from the start and the siblings often now find themselves trying very hard not to act like the villains around them. It is interesting that this moral side is thrown in, Snicket casually brushes over serious murder and horror but he does make it clear that if you start doing it you are no better than the people you are running from, even if it is for good reason. That was rather nice.
I’m afraid the end once again does not look good for the Baudelaire children but the cliffhangers and the increase of adventure makes up for it. These final books connect much better than the earlier ones, they connect together like they are like are different parts of one episode, as opposed to separate episodes of a series. On to book ten!