Ya’ll, I’m kind of glad this was my “No Money” square because I think I’d be irritated if I spent actual money on this book. Might be my second least favorite of the series, but I found a pile of these at Goodwill for a dollar, and then used loyalty points to get them for free. I had to buy #1 because there were 2-6 present, so of course I’d pay for the one I liked the least.
We’re dealing with a pretty predictable pattern here, the Baudelaires are moved to their most recent relation’s care, this time a distant relative who owns a lumbermill and forces them into work there, with a little help from a hypnotist optometrist and a series of orchestrated falls and broken glasses for the bespectacled Klaus to send the kids there. The plot is tired, and the mill is a grim setting without much for the Baudelaires to do, and so it makes for a bit of a dull read.
The previous reviews pretty much spell out that these books are not my cup of tea (even though they really, really should be – I like spooky things! I like pitching kids as much as they can handle! I like tongue in cheek humor! – so I’ll spare you another litany of things that annoyed me about the book, and focus on the elements that I did enjoy. The ineffectual assistant whose refusal to stand up for himself renders his affection for the Baudelaires useless is a nice subtle lesson for the readers that being nice is meaningless if you don’t take action. And the image of a man with smoke for a head is vivid and spooky even if it’s attributable to his incessant cigar smoking (no points for guessing that it’s a disguise, but it’s still a cool effect.