Top critical review
on 27 February 2016
The Slippery Slope is the tenth book in A Series of Unfortunate Events by American author, Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler). As we once again join the unlucky Baudelaire orphans, they find themselves separated: Sunny held captive in Count Olaf’s car while Violet and Klaus seem destined to perish in a runaway caravan down a steep hill.
Having narrowly escaped a burning hospital and already suffered the loss of their parents, the threat of marriage, slave labour, hypnosis, a terrible boarding school, being thrown down a lift shaft, being thrown in jail, acting in a freak show and the murder of their Uncle Monty and Aunt Josephine at the hands of the evil Count Olaf and his nefarious assistants, the siblings are ever-vigilant of his reappearance, although this instalment sees them travelling with him, in disguise, to the Mortmain Mountains . Luckily these well-mannered and uncomplaining children are also very resourceful: Violet invents, Klaus researches and Sunny bites.
Snicket’s tone throughout is apologetic, sincere and matter-of-fact as he relates the unfortunate events in the children’s lives; his imaginative and even surreptitiously educational style will hold much appeal for younger readers, as will the persistent silliness of adults. Snicket’s word and phrase definitions are often hilarious. As always, the alliterative titles are delightful and Brett Helquist provides some wonderfully evocative illustrations.
After seemingly marking time for the last few books, finally, there are some developments that begin to unravel the mystery of the fate of the Baudelaire parents, and an unexpected ally assists Violet and Klaus as they try to rescue Sunny. But their concern for their baby sister is apparently unwarranted, as Sunny not only takes care of herself, but also manages to overhear some vital information, and, luckily, her communication skills have improved exponentially.
Our ever resourceful orphans use a sticky mess to get themselves out of a sticky mess, as well as utilising hammocks, a ukulele, forks, a hand mirror, a breadknife and couple of coats for various purposes. They find coded messages in unusual places and are surprised by facts revealed about their parents. Will the Baudelaires reach the alternate VFD headquarters before Count Olaf does, and will they find a surviving parent there? Readers will have to read the next instalment, The Grim Grotto, to find out.