The Grim Grotto (#11) by Lemony Snicket

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Published: September 21st 2004
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 323
Format: Book
Genre: Junior Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Warning: Your day will become very dark – and possibly damp – if you read this book. Plan to spend this spring in hiding. Lemony Snicket is back with the eleventh book in his New York Times bestselling A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Lemony Snicket’s saga about the charming, intelligent and grossly unlucky Baudelaire orphans continues to provoke suspicion and despair in readers the world over. In the eleventh and most alarming volume yet in the bestselling phenomenon A Series of Unfortunate Events, the intrepid siblings delve further into the dark mystery surrounding the death of their parents and the baffling VFD organisation.

Violet is now almost fifteen, Klaus has had his thirteenth birthday and Sunny is no longer a baby apparently so this story has been going awhile. School has been ignored and forgotten, most adults are useless and there have been more deaths and murders than you could count. But it is all very interesting, mysterious and unfortunate as the end draws near.
We are introduced to a couple new characters, a Captain and his step daughter. The Captain is a pretty annoying character. His constant aye’s and his ability to blabber does get tiresome. It distracts from Snicket’s explanations about words and phrases a bit though, I can’t tell if these are better written in or I’m tolerating them more. Either way. There are also a great deal of twists and surprises in this book which adds to the drama and takes the focus as well.

There is something I do always forget to mention about these books. It is not all long winded paragraphs and explaining things, Snicket actually makes it clever if you know what to look for. There are references in here that, certainly if you know the references make you smile. Most of these come out of Sunny’s mouth, disguised as gibberish but are real words or references with meaning behind them. The adult jokes within this story are good because it does validate that you can be over 12 and read them. These books are easily read by adults, but the fact they can also be read by 12 year olds is why there are slightly more aspects aimed in their direction.

The structure from the earlier books has long been abandoned and now it’s all action and adventure. This certainly makes the books more enjoyable, we see different sides of characters, they do exciting things, and for the siblings especially, they aren’t having to tolerate being ignored as much, they are more independent and have finally realised that the adults can rarely help them. The adults that do appear try their best, and of course Snicket hasn’t abandoned his narrative and writing  style altogether, but a few good non-guardian adults are seeping through the mix. This only adds to the confusion of the overall mystery because they all have their reasons for everything they do, but it is a refreshing change. The ending is certainly being set up to be very exciting and after the hints, clues, and build up Snicket has done, then it should not be a let down.

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