Published: October 18th 2005
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Junior Fiction
★ ★ ★ ★ – 4 Stars
Lemony Snicket returns with the last book before the last book of his bestselling Series of Unfortunate Events. Scream and run away before the secrets of the series are revealed!
Very little is known about Lemony Snicket and A Series of Unfortunate Events. What we do know is contained in the following brief list:
-The books have inexplicably sold millions and millions of copies worldwide.
-People in more than 40 countries are consumed by consuming Snicket.
-The movie was as sad as the books, if not more so.
-Like unrefrigerated butter and fungus, the popularity of these books keeps spreading.
Even less is known about book the twelfth in this alarming phenomenon. In this book, things only get worse. What we do know is contained in the following brief list:
-Count Olaf is still evil
-The Baudelaire orphans do not win a contest.
-The title begins with the word, ‘The’
-Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.
First of all, happy birthday Mr Snicket (aka Daniel Handler). In the past I have rather ignored Mr Snicket and his role in The Series in my reviews so I feel that before we get into the rather short review we should discuss Snicket’s contribution to these children’s perils a bit more. Wikipedia has done a lot better job at cataloguing his contribution so you can see the full biography here
(Spoilers, Ye Be Warned), but here is a brief unspoiler version hopefully. Snicket is a harried, troubled writer and researcher falsely accused of felonies and continuously hunted by the police and his enemies. Through the series we are never given any real indication why Snicket is recording the events of the Baudelaire children but there is a hint that he is connected to their story in some way. As the series continues we follow Snicket as he tries to stay safe and record the adventures of the siblings, he also has mysterious connections to a multitude of character that don’t get revealed till the end or near end which makes it rather exciting. So happy birthday, congratulations on very cleverly writing your narrative self into a series, it makes it seem a lot more like a dramatic and thriller like affair when you describe the situations you get yourself in to.
On to the review. This book is where the action, the patience and the waiting of the past books comes together. It is by no means the end, nor does it reveal everything, there is a whole other book to go, but it comes pretty darn close.
For the past few books there has been the odd cameo and reappearance of past (surviving) characters but by book 12 it’s like a convention where they all come together. Book 12 gives the allusion of being concluding and it will all come to a head by the end, but you soon realise it acts more like a very long introduction to the final showdown that I assume will occur in the final book.
The Baudelaire children go undercover in a hotel to try and suss out who is a friend and who is foe, and aside from confusing them it is confusing to the reader as well. We are not given a lot of information but you are still given clues and revelations which raise the intrigue over the confusion. You have to stay sharp reading this, as I say there are clues and hints, and while sometimes you end up as confused and as bewildered as the Baudelaires you can also figure things out quicker. It’s a pretty good beginning to the final book. Snicket has brought this together wonderfully and I can only imagine what book thirteen will reveal. I will offer nothing else because it will spoil things by revealing things from this book and past ones but I will say that The Penultimate Peril it is cleverly written and pretty surprising as an almost concluding book.