There are some children’s books that invite you in. Literature has long been used to escape from the real world and children’s literature is no exception. Whether it is an escape to a magical boarding school where you realise you are someone special, or a fantastical journey down a rabbit hole, you can expect to be welcomed into the new world for the next 200 or so pages.
Not so here. There is a very clear warning that you do not want to learn of the terrible events that will occur to the three Baudelaire children. But tell a child not to do something and they most certainly will and so this novel – the first in the series – has been a hit with readers since it was first published in 1999.
With a new adaptation premiering on Netflix it seems a perfect time to return to the original story. Set in a timeless version of our world we are introduced to the Baudelaire’s: Violet, Klaus, and baby Sunny. Their life is turned upside down when their parents die in a house fire and they are sent to live with Count Olaf, a mysterious man who lives in a crumbling mansion and owns a theatre troupe.
You know from the beginning that this will not end well and are told “if you enjoy books with happy endings then you are best of reading another book.” You have been warned!