The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

Image result for book cover the bad beginning

Title: The Bad Beginning
Author: Lemony Snicket
Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Gothic
Dates read: 15th – 16th October 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Harper Collins
Year: 1999
5th sentence, 74th page: It means “reluctant to associate with others”, and it might describe somebody who, during a party, would stand in a corner and not talk to anyone.

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Dear Reader,

I’m sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.

In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.

It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket


One of my primary school friends used to be obsessed with A Series of Unfortunate Events. I never read them as a child. But, I recently saw the entire boxset collection for sale online and I just couldn’t help myself. I’ve always just been so curious. And man I’m so glad that I succumbed! There is something brilliant, hilarious and witty about this writing. Also a little bit unique and easy that makes you want to keep reading the whole series… even as a grown adult.

The first sentence of this story warns you that there are no happy endings. That this is not a happy book. But it’s also not that sad either. Don’t get me wrong, it is incredibly tragic, and nothing at all goes right for the three orphans. But the way it is written makes it all feel okay. If any other writer wrote such a depressing tale… I’d probably put the book aside out of disgust. Life sucks, and I don’t necessarily want to read about that. But when all of the tragedy is tempered with wit… I’ll just lap that up.

Part of me wishes that I had have read this book (and series) as a child. There are new words and explanations for their definitions peppered throughout. Reading expands everyone’s vocabulary, but when there are some much more complex words thrown into a children’s book and explained beautifully… I can imagine what this would have done to a child-Skye’s vocabulary (on second thoughts, maybe good that I didn’t read this young – my dad was overwhelmed enough by my ever-growing ability to use ridiculous words as a child).

The Bad Beginning is a tragic, fun read. It reminds you that everyone has their talents (inventing, reading and biting in this case) and that sometimes you can use those to find your way out of a sticky situation. It also introduces a truly horrible villain, because he is just so damn human. You can imagine people in power doing this, because they actually could. And it starts off a series of tragic adventures that I can’t wait to read again and again and again.

 <- The End ReviewThe Reptile Room Review ->

Image source: Angela Maria Hart

Book Review

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