Friday, January 6, 2017

Book Review: The Miserable Mill (A Series of Unfortunate Events #4)

Release Date: April 5, 2000
Author: Lemony Snicket
Publisher: HarperCollins
Length: 194 pages
Source: Purchased Book

Dear Reader,

I hope, for your sake, that you have not chosen to read this book because you are in the mood for a pleasant experience. If this is the case, I advise you to put this book down instantaneously, because of all the books describing the unhappy lives of the Baudelaire orphans, The Miserable Mill might be the unhappiest yet. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are sent to Paltryville to work in a lumber mill, and they find disaster and misfortune lurking behind every log.

The pages of this book, I'm sorry to inform you, contain such unpleasantries as a giant pincher machine, a bad casserole, a man with a cloud of smoke where his head should be, a hypnotist, a terrible accident resulting in injury, and coupons.

I have promised to write down the entire history of these three poor children, but you haven't, so if you prefer stories that are more heartwarming, please feel free to make another selection.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket



Protagonists: After escaping Count Olaf for the third time, the Baudelaire children find themselves employed at the Lucky Smells Lumbermill, where their new guardian, Sir, is the owner. While the work is backbreaking, and the foreman is a real piece of work, the children are happy to be free of Count Olaf, at least for a while. There's a weird building across the street from the mill that is suspiciously shaped like the tattoo on Count Olaf's ankle, and after Klaus pays a visit to this building strange things start to happen. Is Count Olaf actually closer than they think? Okay, so this is the fourth book in this series that I've reviewed after deciding to reread this series, and I'm sad to see that there wasn't as much development in the children as I thought early on. However, this book does have a glimmer of development for our heroes as they have to rely on skill sets that are out of their comfort zone. I really enjoyed this small break from the wash, rinse, repeat storytelling that we had with these adventures so far.

World Building: Much like with the character development there is a bit of a break in form for the overall storytelling as well. While I've seen that this is many people's least favorite installment in the series, and it wasn't really a favorite of mine as a child either, as an adult, I can appreciate that the author decided to ditch the very cookie cutter pacing of the other books and present an adventure in this series that's a bit different. To start off, while in books two and three of this series the children had loving, if not a bit insipid, guardians, in this adventure we hardly ever get to see their guardian and instead of a nice home they work in a lumbermill preparing logs into suitable building materials. Also, count Olaf's first appearance feels a bit different. It's not something that happens almost immediately and it actually takes a little while before we find out how he's disguised himself this time. The story itself is a bit boring, however, for me, it was saved by how the author shook things up. P.S. Is it just me or does anyone else find it weird that the children can immediately spot Count Olaf in his disguise, but never one of this associates?

Foreshadowing: Once again Snicket employs fantastic allegories that always seem to become important later in the story. While after a fairly repetitive story cycle I could see readers thinking they could know exactly where things are headed in this installment, for first-time readers I think there are a few surprises. In fact, even though I've read this book before, it's been so long that I was actually rather surprised with how certain things came into play. It's still a fairly predictable adventure, but there are some nice refreshing twists in there to keep it interesting enough.


Once again I've left out the ending section because there wasn't really any need for it and I wasn't going to babble on just to fill a spot. That being said though I ended up liking this installment better than when I first read it. As I said in my full review the change of pace was nice, I just wish that the author would have started to expand the world sooner in this series. Luckily it won't be too much longer...


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