Lemony Snicket’s third novel in the Baudalaire childrens’ story follows much the same structure as its predecessors – the orphaned children find themselves placed in the care of their newest guardian, who once again meets an unsavoury end. I’m starting to think that anyone who is asked to look after these children should tell Mr Poe where to stick it. I enjoyed it, but can’t help feeling a little disappointed that it followed the exact same structure as the previous two novels. Different details, but essentially the same story. It was still enjoyable, and the characters were funny and interesting – I’ll probably still finish the series anyway seeing as I’ve bought all of them to read – but I thought Snicket would try and do something different other than the setting.
As much as Snicket tries to dress these novels up as tragic tales, most of them are actually quite funny. I can’t help but think I would have far more glowing things to say about this novel if I’d read it when I was younger, but that can’t be helped. These are definitely intended for a younger audience, and I don’t think I would have been as disappointed by the narrative structure if I’d read it when I was small.
From an adaptation point of view I am so confused as to why the film chose to move around the end points! Even though they only chose to adapt the first three novels, I think they could have ended the film quite well at the end of the third novel, rather than jump back to the narrative climax of the first novel – admittedly that was a much darker ending than the second and third novels had, but seems a strange choice to make.
The lack of change in the narrative structure makes me struggle for things to say about this novel. I liked how Aunt Josephine wasn’t exactly a model guardian, and was quite willing to give up the children to save her own life when challenged by Count Olaf. Her character being terrified of everything made you want to roll your eyes – I hope that readers would take away from this that just because someone’s an adult, it doesn’t mean they know everything or that you should always follow their example (within reason).
I would give it a 4/5 because I enjoyed the story, despite how similar it was to the other two novels. I hope that Snicket can show more character progression in the main three characters in the next novels.