Author: Lemony Snicket
Published: (USA) 1999
Age Rating: 9+
Star Rating: 4.5/5
In the distance along the misty shore of Briny Beach there could be seen a tall figure striding toward the Baudelaire children…
The beginning of a terrible, twisted tale, featuring the Baudelaire children: who, as a result of a fire which destroyed their home, killed their parents and eradicated their childhood – become the Baudelaire orphans… Mr Poe, a Banker, becomes responsible for the children, and the massive fortune, their parents left and takes them to live with their distant relative: Count Olaf who lives in a dilapidated house, which the author describes comprehensively, with great detail and description:
…the entire building sagged to one side like a crooked tooth…
Alongside some austere and eerie illustrations by Brett Helquist, the reader is introduced to the darkly mysterious character – Count Olaf. Brett Helquist’s illustrations, which make a regular appearance throughout each book in this series, capture perfectly, the bleak, Victorian image, that these books evolve around. Helquist also designs the front covers of these excellent books, but I think the black and white internal illustrations are more appealling.
It fast becomes clear that Count Olaf isn’t the sympathetic guardian he poses as, as this book progresses: but a repulsive villain – desperate to claim the children’s fortune. It is clear upon introduction, that Olaf wants the money. The first reference he openly makes is before Mr Poe himself, mentioning that the fortune will allow him to repair his house. Poe swiftly informs him that the money cannot be touched until Violet is ‘of age’. Hence: the reason why count Olaf concocts a series of disasterous ‘accidents’ for the children, fortunately – unsucessfully. Finally Olaf apprehends that surely the simpler option would be to become a direct relative to one of the orphans: which would then give him full access to the fortune.
Is it as simple as it appears?
I have given this book a rating of 4.5 out of 5, because it is basicly the introductory book to the series: some of the following titles offer a more interesting plot. Neverthless: a highly reccomended book.