"The Baudelaire orphans looked out the grimy window of the train and gazed at the gloomy blackness of the Finite Forest, wondering if their lives would ever get better," begins The Miserable Mill
. If you have been introduced to the three Baudelaire orphans in any of Lemony Snicket's previous novels, you know that not only will their lives not get better, they will get much worse. In the fourth installment in the "Series of Unfortunate Events," the sorrowful siblings, having once again narrowly escaped the clutches of the evil Count Olaf, are escorted by the kindly but ineffectual Mr. Poe to their newest "home" at the Lucky Smells Lumbermill. Much to their horror (if not surprise), their dormitory at the mill is crowded and damp, they are forced to work with spinning saw blades, they are fed only one meal a day (not counting the chewing gum they get for lunch), and worst of all, Count Olaf lurks in a dreadful disguise as Shirley the receptionist just down the street. Not even the clever wordplay and ludicrous plot twists could keep this story buoyant--reading about the mean-spirited foreman, the deadly blades, poor Klaus (hypnotized and "reprogrammed"), and the relentless hopelessness of the children's situation only made us feel gloomy. Fans of these wickedly funny, suspenseful adventures won't want to miss out on a single one, but we're hoping the next tales have the delicate balance of delight and disaster we've come to expect from this exciting series. (Ages 9 to 12)
From School Library Journal
Grade 4-7-This fourth book in the series about the Baudelaire orphans works fine as a stand-alone. The "poor little rich kids" lead lives filled with unhappiness, gothic horror, and melodramatic despair. Here, the protagonists are sent to work in a lumber mill in Paltryville, where they are fed only a stick of gum for lunch and are forced to perform backbreaking labor. Their enemy, Count Olaf, is not far from the scene, and will certainly utilize any disguise to get at the siblings' inheritance. Violet, Klaus, and Baby Sunny are responsible for their own fate and, as usual, they take matters in hand. This is for readers who appreciate this particular type of humor; it exaggerates the sour and makes anyone's real life seem sweet in comparison.Sharon R. Pearce, Geronimo Public School, OK
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