A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
What's the story?
The welcome return of the ill-fated Baudelaire orphans, whose dark-humored circumstances brighten older readers' days. Here in their second book they again match wits with their greedy and evil Uncle Olaf, and here again Lemony Snicket delights us with entertaining wordplay, the poker-faced narrator, and a droll, but cliff-hanging story.
Is it any good?
Snicket does not rely on shock value to keep his audience's interest, but rather animates his bleak comedy with a suspenseful mystery that gathers momentum. He ably handles unhappy emotions that steal over the Baudelaire children -- and probably are experienced by some readers as well -- such as the "dark and curious feeling of falling that accompanies any great loss."
This is the second in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events books that follow the rotten, cursed life of the Baudelaire children. This installment plays less on their ill luck -- that can safely be taken for granted -- and more on the story at hand, a mystery cunningly unraveled by the children. Snicket presents it almost like a play, with plenty of detail and a drawing-room atmosphere.