Review: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket


Genre: Children/Middle-Grade, Fantasy
Pages: 176
Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events #1 (Series of 12)
Release Date: September 30, 1999

4 Stars


The Bad Beginning starts with a letter that acts as both the synopsis and introduction. The letter warns the reader that this book is not a happy one. Here’s the letter:

Dear Reader,

I’m sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.

In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.

It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

The moment I read the letter, I knew that I was going to love the book, if not for the story, than for the style in which it’s told.

The narrative used by the author, which reminds me of Narnia, is very good. It’s like someone telling a story to a kid. Older than Narnia but younger than Percy Jackson. It’s full of explanations for various saying and words, things to learn, and has simple but interesting characters that kids would want to be like.

It’s a short and simple tale in which the clever protagonists try to use their wit to foil the evil the evil villain’s evil plan. It’s a classic formula, and I don’t know what else to say. I really liked the book and I’m going to be reading the rest of the series as well as giving the Netflix show a try. I think you should check it out as well.


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