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03 November 2012

Lemony Snicket Comes Back with (Almost) All the Right Responses


Known for his Series of Unfortunate Events on the trials and tribulations of the four Beaudelaire orphans, Lemony Snicket is back with the first of a new series, All the Wrong Questions, starting with "Who Could That Be at This Hour?".  Narrated by the almost-thirteen-year-old Lemony Snicket (spelled the way it sounds), who is graduated from an unusual education to become the Apprentice of a Chaperone, except for one glaring error, the series promises to be mysterious, fast-paced and full of delightful wordplay and literally references that cheeky almost-any-aged readers would adore.

In this introductory story, Lemony Snicket has his own agenda for his time as Apprentice, but is foiled by the change of plans, his Chaperone S. Theodora Markson whisking him out of the unnamed City to a nearly deserted village called Stain'd-by-the-Sea.  They cross an inlet that has been drained of its water so that the village's name is already wrong -- it is no longer by the sea.  The village had the reputation of providing the blackest, most staining ink, derived from scared octopi.  Rumor has it that that's falling by the wayside, also.

The village consists of a lot of abandoned buildings, a lighthouse which used to house the newspaper, a public library cum police station which used to be City Hall, The Lost Inn and a promising independent coffeeshop called The Black Cat.  It is scarcely populated with characters who are sinisterly colorful: Prosper Lost whose inn's lobby houses a statue when described by Snicket sounds suspiciously like the ancient Greek statue famously known as Venus de Milo and a lone telephone which seems to be continuously in use; Pip & Squeak -- two young boys who drive their father's taxicab around, taking tips for fares (useful ones like, "Next time you're at the library, check out a book about a champion of the world" are much appreciated); the Officers Mitchum -- partners in crime-fighting and domesticity, Dashiell Qwerty, who has been the sub-librarian of Stain'd's public library since the last one left, because the town can't afford a permanent librarian, et al., et al.

This new effort by Lemony Snicket (albeit his almost-twelve self) is a wonderfully fun ride for the seriously philosophical and promises to be an equally intriguing series.

And, what's that one "glaring error" in the book?  Well, that's the wrong question.

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