Well, I liked this book quite a bit more than the first one, but given that it doesn’t revolve around a guardian attempting to marry his barely teenaged ward against her will, anything would be an upgrade.
Since Count Olaf has now been unmasked as dastardly, the Baudelaire orphans have been placed with their uncle Monty, a reptile enthusiast with a menagerie of snakes and lizards, including the harmless Incredibly Deadly Viper, named as a joke. Since the placement is happy and Uncle Monty is glad to have the children and the children are glad to be in his care, the reader knows he is not long for this earth.
Not that the reader gets a chance to infer this. Lemony Snicket as a narrator continues to spell everything out for his readers, and so any foreshadowing is lost to his explicitly stating that Uncle Monty is destined for the reaper. I understand that these are books for children, but one thing that made, for instance, the Harry Potter series so well done is that they got increasingly more complex as the series progressed. LET KIDS FIGURE THIS STUFF OUT.
The irritating interrupting definitions were much less intrusive this time around, but my point stands that I learned how to read as much by learning words as I did story patterns, new vocabulary from context clues, and just filling in the gaps the author left. Snicket at least here leaves some but fewer than I’d like.