Top critical review
Who is Lemony Snicket? (Part 1)
on 4 September 2013
I enjoyed the "Unfortunate Events" series, and picked this up with some glee, anticipating the sharp wit and double entendres that distinguished that series from the wealth of other children's lit out there. This first of four volumes promised to give readers a closer glimpse of who Lemony Snicket (the narrator behind the Baudelaires' perilous story) was before being involved with the Baudelaires' parents and the VFD.
In this installment, 13-year-old Snicket is apprenticed to the lowest ranked agent, S. Theodora Markson; she of the big, voluminous hair, smallish intellect and a loud scolding voice, who is inevitably always two steps behind Snicket when it came to searching for clues or catching the significance of anything's that observed. The case that they have been assigned is to steal back a statue to return to its rightful owner. The statue is that of a Bombinating Beast in the deserted little town called Stain'd by the Sea, and before long, it becomes apparent that the statue is wanted by more than a few interested parties. One of them is Ellington Feint, a girl who needs it to rescue her kidnapped father, and Snicket forms an uneasy alliance with her. The novel ends with a betrayal and Snicket must plan his next move and possibly ask the right question this time.
Enjoyable, and the author creates yet another believably quaint and mysterious locale in Stain'd by the Sea, with its cast of curious inhabitants. Perhaps there isn't a clear sense of who the villain really is, in the form of the name Hangfire, whom we never meet in the novel, but that is a rather minor complaint.