The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events) by Lemony Snicket

The Bad Beginning, SnicketHarperCollins, 1999
ISBN-13:  978-0064407663
Ages 10+

Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire, orphaned after a terrible fire, are sent (or sentenced) to live with Count Olaf, who is supposedly a relative but whom the children have never met.  As it turns out, their instincts are correct — the Count is determined to get his creepy, long-nailed hands on the substantial Baudelaire fortune, no matter the cost.  The first of a thirteen-book series, The Bad Beginning kicks things off with a unique, classically charming, and delightfully grisly story.

What stands out the most in this quick, page-turning read is Snicket’s inimitable voice.  The narration is clever, engaging, and never-before-seen in a completely indescribable way.  Snicket strays from traditional story-telling and acts as the bearer of bad tidings, frequently warning us of horrible events to come and humorously pausing to define potentially confusing phrases for our benefit.

The story is tightly-knit and clean, and thus is enjoyable for all ages.  The character of Count Olaf is wrapped in cliche, but he takes on his own style and leaves other greedy schemers in the dust.  The children are commendable heroes, all likeable and with distinctive traits particular to each.

All in all, this beginning is anything but bad.  Writing like that of Lemony Snicket is a rarity, and not one that should be passed up.  I heartily recommend this book (and its successors) to anyone and everyone old enough to read.

5/5 stars

— Reviewer Anonymous

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