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A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Austere Academy-Book the Fifth
Lemony Snicket - Illustrated by Brett Helquist
ISBN 0-7497-4703-X
An Egmont Book

Lemony Snicket is a very private man

The Baudelaire kids are having an even worse time than last, if that is possible. Orphaned on page one of Book One, thrown into care by the hapless Mr. Poe, the banker, they are tortured, forced to do unspeakable things by the awful Count Olaf who wants their fortune - did I mention their parents were rich? Book Two, Three, Four are even worse and full of menace and the crimes against them by the heinous Count Olaf terrible to an extreme. Mr. Poe the hapless banker grows more hapless by the episode and the Count ever more scheming and heartless. The kids barely survive each adventure and if they ever get a square meal or a nights sleep they will surely regret it.
In book four they are forced to be slave labour in a lumber mill, even the baby has to gnaw bark off trees for supper and supper turns out to be chewing gum. There are evil people trying to corrupt intelligent, polite resourceful children who clearly deserve a better life...but they aren't going to get a better life. It gets worse and more harsh and sinister with each book and there are at least 13 of these stylish volumes.

*You can click on book and buy here

Now with The Austere Academy we are up to book five and in the authors own words:
'If you are looking for a story about cheerful youngsters spending a jolly time at boarding school, look elsewhere. For Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire school turns out to be another miserable episode in their unlucky lives'.

They are terrorised by the awful Carmelita Spats the most loathsome girl in the world and the two teachers Mr. Remora and Mr. Bass are utterly bereft of teaching skills. Worse the baby, Sunny, is forced to work as the vice-principal's secretary,answering phones and stapling paper together, not a task many babies, let alone Sunny, could cope with.

They finally are allowed the luxury of making 'friends' (the Quagmire triplets but there are only two of them ) but beware of making friends with these Baudelaire kids. You will either die suddenly or be whisked off to be tortured or traded for money - if your parents can be bothered to pay a ransom.

Needless to say everyone is mad. The vice-principal Nero believes he is a musical genius but cannot play a note on his violin. The rules of the school are gloriously unjust and cruel:
Meals are served promptly at breakfastime...if you are late we take away your cups and glasses and your beverages will be served to you in large puddles'.

The children are forced to live in a tin shack filled with wild crabs and a fungus that drips off the ceiling and sleep on hay bales. If they do anything wrong they are forced to eat without silverware.
Needless to say eating scrambled eggs and spaghetti with your hands isn't fun!

The teaching is even worse than a normal English state school. The teachers know nothing and get students to measure pencils all day or remember what the teachers ate for lunch. Prison would be more fun and that is the point of this series of unfortunate events. How far can it go before these Baudelaire kids crack up entirely.

Lemony Snicket has already sold four million copies of his book series and it is snapping at the heels of Harry Potter. It is much more cruel and harsh than Potter and easier to digest. But at the end of the day each Potter adventure is different wheras A series of unfortunate events is ...well the same. They still make you laugh out aloud and Count Olaf is predictably more evil in each and the kids have to be even more resourceful but then again, I am an adult. Kids will crave this stuff and although I am signing off on the Lemony Snicket ticket...if you haven't read at least two of them, start now. They are fresh, inventive, hilarious and wonderfully cruel.

Buy, enjoy, swap. You won't regret it.
PS : Great for adults too!

The best and meanest and most cruel of the five so far in the UK? The fourth book in the scary lumber mill. But don't say you haven't been warned, they are terribly addictive. I believe a film is in the works.

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