It seems almost too good to be true when the Baudelaire children are brought to Dr. Montgomery’s home. He seems genuinely excited to see them, greets them with cake, lets them each choose their own room, and encourages their individual interests. It seems like the trials and tribulations of the Baudelaire children are finally over. However, it’s not called A Series of Unfortunate Events for nothing.
**This review was written before the #metoo movement, and before I had heard of the sexual harassment accusations against Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket). You can read about it further in this Vulture article.**
I found this book harder to read than the first one. This book felt more heartbreaking than the first one, mostly because we get to see the Baudelaires really and truly happy, and we’re waiting for it all to be pulled out from underneath their feet. And this book was more frustrating than the first one, because we already saw terrible things happen to these children as a result of Mr. Poe and other adults not taking the children seriously, and yet we see it all happening again.
One thing that my teacher brain absolutely loved was how Lemony Snicket continued to teach about writing while writing the book. When he chooses to employ dramatic irony, he explains what it is and why writers use it. When he uses cliche phrases (“Meanwhile, back at the ranch), he points it out and explains the purpose behind it. He is constantly pulling back the curtain and breaking the fourth wall, with the purpose of teaching his readers about the craft of writing. And while he is teaching his readers how to write, he is still willing to fill and entire page with the word “ever”. It’s wonderful.
I did not enjoy this installment as much as the first one, and I think it’s because plot-wise, not as much happened in this book. However, all of the things that I loved about The Bad Beginning were kept consistent in this book, and I can definitely see why this series is so well beloved by so many readers.