A Series of Unfortunate Events 13

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

1-3 | 4-6 | 7-9 | 10-12 | Extras

A Series of Unfortunate Events was a series of novels written by Lemony Snicket and published between 1999 and 2006. The main series consisted of thirteen novels: The Bad Beginning (1999), The Reptile Room (1999), The Wide Window (2000), The Miserable Mill (2000), The Austere Academy (2000), The Ersatz Elevator (2001), The Vile Village (2001), The Hostile Hospital (2001), The Carnivorous Carnival (2002), The Slippery Slope (2003), The Grim Grotto (2004), The Penultimate Peril (2005) and The End (2006). The series also has a couple of supplementary novels that further flesh out the world and has been adapted into both a film and Netflix series. For the purpose of this review, I will be looking at the final instalment only.

Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire managed to escape the burning of the Hotel Denoument but had to do some pretty villainous things in order to do so. Now, they have found themselves stranded at sea aboard the Carmelita. To make matters worse, they are also sharing the boat with their hated enemy, Count Olaf. Although he seems less threatening without his henchpeople, he still has the diving helmet full of the medusoid mycelium at his disposal and so can easily kill everyone aboard the ship.

Following a huge storm, the Baudelaires and Olaf find themselves marooned on a coast shelf, regarded to be the place where everything washes up eventually. They soon meet the nearby islanders and discover that they also once underwent a schism. A large number left the island but those that remain now live under the rule of Ishmael – a man who seems to have the power to control their actions and beliefs through not-so-subtle suggestion.

When a familiar face also washes up on the island, the Baudelaires slowly start to learn that chance has brought them to a place that has connections to their past. Although they thought they had left the VFD far behind them, their parents had once visited the island and may have been instrumental in the schism. However, the Baudelaires do not have long to explore this connection. Olaf is determined to seize control away from Ishmael and would not be averse to using the medusoid mycelium to do it…  More

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A Series of Unfortunate Events – Supplementary Material

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

1-3 | 4-6 | 7-9 | 10-12

A Series of Unfortunate Events was a massively successful series for middle grade readers. The thirteen instalments were written by Lemony Snicket and published between 1999 and 2006. They follow the tragic and often dangerous adventures of the orphaned Baudelaire siblings as they attempt to discover more about a mysterious organisation known as the VFD and avoid the evil Count Olaf, who is determined to kill them and steal their fortune. But that is not what I intend to talk about in this review.

As I only have one book left to review in the main series, today I’m going to be looking at some of the supplementary material. The Unauthorized Autobiography (2002) and The Beatrice Letters (2006) were published alongside the main series and contain hints, codes and answers that help to further flesh out Snicket’s world.

The Unauthorized Autobiography is a collection of materials that were unearthed following the reported “death” of Lemony Snicket. Its aim is to answer some of the questions that plague those who have been following the mystery of the Baudelaire children, though those questions may not be quite what they thought to ask. The Beatrice Letters collects two sets of correspondence. The first of these are letters written by a young Lemony Snicket to the love of his life, Beatrice Baudelaire. The second are a series of letters written to Snicket long after Beatrice’s death, desperately trying to arrange a meeting with him. The strange thing is that these letters are also signed with Beatrice’s name…

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A Series of Unfortunate Events 10-12

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

1-3 | 4-6 | 7-9

Once again, I regret to inform you that I have been forced to delve into the misfortunes and murders that follow in the wake of the Baudelaire siblings…

A Series of Unfortunate Events was written by Lemony Snicket and focuses on the adventures of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire – three orphans who are struggling to uncover the secret behind their parents’ death whilst avoiding the cunning and ruthless Count Olaf. The series consists of thirteen main novels – The Bad Beginning (1999), The Reptile Room (1999), The Wide Window (2000), The Austere Academy (2000), The Ersatz Elevator (2001), The Vile Village (2001), The Hostile Hospital (2001), The Carnivorous Carnival (2002), The Slippery Slope (2003), The Grim Grotto (2004), The Penultimate Peril (2005) and The End (2006). Snicket has also published a few spin-off stories and the series has been recently adapted into a fantastic Netflix series. For the purpose of this review, I’ll be looking at books 10 to 12 only.

Although the Baudelaire siblings have outwitted Count Olaf time and time again, it seems that this time he has gotten the better of them. Violet and Klaus have found themselves trapped inside a caravan as it winds down a precarious mountain path, helpless to watch as the villain drives away with their little sister. However, help comes to the Baudelaires from an unexpected source. They are soon contacted by someone long presumed dead; someone who is able to finally explain the nature of the VFD.

Yet it is not long before tragedy and misery find the orphans once again. Although they are reunited with Sunny, they find themselves swept away down a raging stream. It is here that they meet another member of the VFD and begin a frantic hunt for the elusive sugar bowl. However, their investigations turn up something far more terrifying. In the depths of the Gorgonian Grotto, a deadly fungus grows. The Medusoid Mycelium is able to kill a person within an hour and Olaf will stop at nothing to get it.

Finally, the Baudelaires find themselves at the Hotel Denouement – last safe-house of the VFD. Disguised as concierges, they spy on the guests in the hope of finding out the identity of the mysterious “JS”. It’s not long before the orphans begin to recognise many faces from their previous adventures and realise that the VFD has been following them for a long time. Unfortunately, this means that they have to come to terms with how badly adults have failed them in the past. With no one left to turn to, the Baudelaires are forced to make allies in unexpected places, and start a few fires of their own…

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Fiendish

Fiendish was written by Brenna Yovanoff and first published in 2014. It is a work of magical realism with horror elements, set in a small American town with a history of surreal and sinister occurrences. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

It started when seven-year-old Clementine discovered a weird tomato in the garden, but she remembers little after that. She was hidden in the cellar with her eyes sewn shut and left to sleep, existing in a dreamlike state as roots began to grow around her. It was ten years until she was found by Eric Fisher and freed from her prison, and Clementine found herself in a world that hardly remembered her.

In the town of New South Bend, you are either normal or crooked. The crooked live on the outskirts and are the families with old blood, in tune with the humors of dirt, creek, fire, air and fools light, and forever connected to the mysterious energies that bubble up from the Hollow. The crooked live in constant fear of these energies growing out of control. This happened once ten years before, triggering the Reckoning and resulting in the normal folks forming a lynch mob to put them back in their place.

Following Clementine’s rescue, strange things begin to happen again. The hollow grows restless, monstrous catfish appear in the creek and fiends – lesser gods of old – are seen wandering the woods. Clementine and her new friends know that they are the only ones who can bring the old magic under control but they need to do so quickly. People are starting to notice and it won’t be long before the frightened townsfolk turn on them once again…

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A Series of Unfortunate Events 7-9

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels [here] and [here].

A Series of Unfortunate Events is a series of darkly humorous novels which focus on the miserable and dangerous lives of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire – three orphans who are relentlessly hunted by the greedy Count Olaf who will stop at nothing to get their inherited fortune. The series was written by Lemony Snicket and consists of thirteen novels – The Bad Beginning (1999), The Reptile Room (1999), The Wide Window (2000), The Miserable Mill (2000), The Austere Academy (2000), The Ersatz Elevator (2001), The Vile Village (2001), The Hostile Hospital (2001), The Carnivorous Carnival (2002), The Slippery Slope (2003), The Grim Grotto (2004), The Penultimate Peril (2005) and The End (2006). For the purpose of this review, I’ll be looking at books 7 to 9 only.

In The Vile Village, the Baudelaires this time find themselves adopted by the strange village of VFD. They are initially convinced that this must have some connection to the deaths of their parents, but it quickly becomes apparent that it’s just a town of strange, elderly people who stick rigidly to their contradictory rules. However, when the children receive a message from the Quagmire Triplets, it becomes clear that something more is afoot. It’s not long before the villagers capture a man that they believe to be Olaf. The Baudelaires immediately realise that the man – Jacques Snicket – is innocent, but can they prove it before the villagers have him executed?

In The Hostile Hospital, the Baudelaires find themselves accused of the death of Count Olaf and are forced to flee. They arrive at a half-built hospital and discover that the building’s Hall of Records may contain a file about their parents. However, when Olaf and his crew manage to capture Violet, the children find themselves in greater danger than ever before. Olaf plans to murder Violet during a public medical procedure. How will Klaus and Sunny manage to get her to safety, when the entire hospital is watching?

In The Carnivorous Carnival, the Baudelaires hide in Olaf’s car and find themselves at a sideshow in the desert. Disguising themselves as freaks, they accept jobs in the carnival while they look for a way to escape from Olaf and his henchpeople. However, they soon learn that Madam Lulu, the carnival fortune teller, has been feeding Olaf information about their whereabouts. If the woman really is psychic, it can’t be long before she realises who the new freaks really are. The children know they need to find a way to escape, but not before they find out exact what Madam Lulu can tell them about the VFD…  More

Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball

Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball is due for release in October 2017 and is the first novel that has been both written and illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson. It is a humorous Gothic fantasy for younger readers that focuses on a vampire’s attempt to rescue her pet from a wicked prince. The novel forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

The Kingdom of Nocturnia is a place where things are more than happy to go bump in the night. The ghoulish inhabitants have only one thing to fear, and that is glitter. They know that they are safe so long as they are home before dawn, as that is when terrible things like unicorns, faeries and kittens wake up. Nobody wants to find themselves face to face with a faery. The very thought is too terrible to contemplate.

Amelia Fang is pretty happy on the whole. Her mother is obsessed with looking pretty and her father is a crossword enthusiast but she has two great friends – Florence the Yeti and Grimaldi the Grim Reaper – and a loyal companion in her pet pumpkin, Squashy. However, everything changes when Prince Tangine enrols in her school. Amelia knows that the Prince’s mother was eaten by a faery and wants to feel sorry for him, however he makes it very difficult. Prince Tangine is rude to everyone and is given whatever he wants, even if that thing belongs to someone else.

When the Prince comes for dinner at her house and takes a liking to Squashy, Amelia’s mother immediately hands the poor pumpkin over as a gift. Amelia is heartbroken. She cares about Squashy more than anything and knows that Tangine won’t treat her pet nicely. With Florence and Grimaldi’s help, she embarks on a mission to get him back. However, in doing so she discovers that there is more to her enemy than she first thought…

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Strange Star

strange-star

Strange Star was written by Emma Carroll and first published in 2016. It is middle grade novel which presents a fantastical account of how Mary Shelley found the inspiration to write Frankenstein. The novel stands alone and so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

June, 1816. The year that a bright new star appears in the sky, drawing a long tail behind it. Lord Byron invites four esteemed guests to Villa Diodati on the shore of Lake Geneva for an evening of ghost stories to chill the blood. For his young servant, Felix, it is an exciting night. Not only is it a good time to prove he is worthy of being Byron’s footman but he can also listen to tales told by some of the greatest thinkers in England.

Yet as darkness falls and a storm begins, there comes a frantic knocking at the door. Felix reluctantly answers it to find the body of a girl on the doorstep. Although Dr Polidori declares her dead, Mary Shelley is not prepared to give up on her. Through sheer force of will she manages to revive the girl, and the girl immediately accuses her of having kidnapped her younger sister. Horrified at the accusation, Mary denies any wrong doing, but the girl has a terrible story to tell.

As Felix and Mary listen, the girl – named Lizzie – tells a terrifying story of her own. One that began the previous winter in a small English village. It is a tale of freak storms and stolen livestock. Impossible science and the possibility of curing death itself. Although Mary is not sure if she believes Lizzie, her story is truly more terrible than anything that the writers could have dreamed of.

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Lumière

Lumiere

This review is brought to you as part of the Virtual Book Tour for Lumière, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours.

Lumière was written by Jacqueline E. Garlick and first published in 2015. It is a science-fiction/fantasy novel that focuses on a teenage girl who is searching for a machine that will cure her debilitating seizures. The story is the first book in The Illumination Paradox series and is followed by Noir (2015).

Eyelet Elsworth lives in a world where witches are punished by death and the mentally ill are treated like monsters. Afflicted with seizures since childhood, her parents have gone to great lengths to hide her condition from the world to prevent their daughter from living out her days imprisoned in an asylum. Her father tries to develop a machine called the Illuminator that will cure her, however he dies before it can be completed. On the same day, a brilliant flash lights up the sky and the sun fails to rise again.

Over the years that follow, Eyelet dreams of completing her father’s work. When her mother is executed for witchcraft, she leaves one item in her daughter’s care – a glowing pendant that holds the ability to save everyone. With pendant in hand, Eyelet sets off in search of her father’s stolen Illuminator but discovers it just in time to see it being stolen.

Hitching a ride on the back of his carriage, Eyelet soon finds herself stranded in a subterranean mansion in the woods. Unable to escape due to the encroaching deadly vapours, she reluctantly finds herself in the care of the thief – a disfigured youth by the name of Urlick Babbit. Although Urlick is sullen and his house is full of secrets, Eyelet soon realises that she needs to work with him if she is ever to get the machine operational. What she doesn’t know is that the true purpose of the device is more terrible than she could ever have imagined…

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Sweet Unrest

Sweet Unrest

This is another unplanned review. It turns out that I picked up an ARC of its sequel on Netgalley the other day so figured that it was probably best to take a little look at this one first!

Sweet Unrest was written by Lisa Maxwell and first published in 2014. It’s a Southern Gothic novel which focuses on a teenage girl discovering the source of her strange dreams. The book forms the first part of the Sweet Unrest series and is followed by Gathering Deep (2015).

Lucy Aimes never wanted to move to New Orleans. She had her life pretty much figured out and her parents’ sudden decision to move south to help excavate an old plantation really squashed her dream to become a professional photographer. Lucy only came with her parents on one condition – if she’s good and helpful they will allow her to move back to Chicago after the Summer holiday.

Yet the plantation has a strange effect on Lucy. She has always had strange dreams about drowning but now they are filled with strange places and people that she seems to know, despite having never met. Central to all these dreams is the handsome socialite Alex and his relationship with Armantine, a photographer’s assistant.

When Lucy meets a Voodoo priestess by the name of Mama Legba, she comes to learn that dreams are just memories of previous lives. It is not long before she starts seeing Alex around the plantation and realises that his lingering presence is a mystery that can only be solved in her dreams. Yet focusing on the past is dangerous. By focusing on Armantine’s life, she could put her own and any future existences in jeopardy.

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Mortlock

Mortlock

Mortlock was first published in 2010 and was the debut novel of Jon Mayhew. It was the first of The Mortlock Books and was followed by The Demon Collector (2011) and The Bonehill Curse (2012). Although all three novels share a setting and some background characters, they are stand-alone stories and can therefore be enjoyed in any order.

In 1820, three men – Edwin Chrimes, Thurlough Corvis and Sebastian Mortlock – journeyed deep into the jungles of Abyssinia in search of the Amarant, a legendary flower which was rumoured to have power over life and death. Although they succeed in finding the plant, they realise that using it would come at a horrible price and swear an oath that none of them will ever take it for themselves.

Thirty-four years passed and Chrimes has since made a living for himself as a stage magician under the name of the Great Cardamom. He has also become the guardian of an orphan named Josie, who acts as his knife-throwing assistant. The two of them live in relative comfort until one evening when three women, claiming to be Chrimes’s Aunts, appear on his doorstep.

As Chrimes is suddenly taken ill, Josie comes to realise that the Aunts are not all that they seem. There is something unnatural about them and they are fixated on retrieving the Amarant for their master. As Chrimes finally succumbs to his illness, he manages to impart a final request on Josie. To unite with her twin brother – a boy that she never knew existed – and destroy the Amarant forever.

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