Top positive review
Might actually be my favorite in the whole series of unfortunate favorites...
on January 25, 2014
How many writers can explain the work of Richard Wright in terms most ten-year-olds can understand? I only know of one. I never even *attempted* Wright until my Junior year in High School despite consistently, without ever a single exception in twelve years of mandatory standardized evaluations, placing at *least* three years above my grade level (unless maybe you count the last few years, when the scales no longer went high enough), and I found him one heck of a challenge, and that didn't even include Native Son (which Mr. Handler aka Snicket decodes with such smooth apparent ease you'd think it were Richard Scarry instead).
On to the book itself... in this volume Our Heroes the young Beaudelaires give us that particular pleasure that comes from re-encountering nearly *all* of the vile villains, rotten rapscallions, and heartless hooligans they've escaped through clever collaboration and endless effort (despite their lousy luck) since their parents perished in that colossal conflagration (a phrase which here means something like "pernicious plot perpetrated by avaricious, arsonous actors") nearly eleven editions ago. Among the hindering hallways of the Hotél Denouement the reader can learn the Dewey Decimal system, the onerous obligations (and occasional opportunities) of a common conciérge, what "Justice is Blind" does NOT mean, and how to persist despite regular reminders that one's best brain-work still might very well be completely "WRONGGGG!". We are also reminded that not all siblings with the same age and birth-date are twins, not all reflections are illusions, that a sauna has more merits than one, that a picnic can be just the thing when enemies are everywhere and menacing misfortunes mount, and that athletic tap-dancing cow-poke pirates are not necessarily as formidable as they first seem. And, in perhaps the least-liked lesson of all, we learn that when fighting fires, sometimes the most effective tool is another fire.