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A Series of Unfortunate Events. Book the Fourth. The Miserable Mill
ISBN 0060283157 / 9780060283155 / 0-06-028315-7
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"The Baudelaire orphans looked out the grimy window of the train and gazed at the gloomy blackness of the Finite Forest, wondering if their lives would ever get better," begins The Miserable Mill. If you have been introduced to the three Baudelaire orphans in any of Lemony Snicket's previous novels, you know that not only will their lives not get better, they will get much worse. In the fourth installment in the "Series of Unfortunate Events," the sorrowful siblings, having once again narrowly escaped the clutches of the evil Count Olaf, are escorted by the kindly but ineffectual Mr. Poe to their newest "home" at the Lucky Smells Lumbermill. Much to their horror (if not surprise), their dormitory at the mill is crowded and damp, they are forced to work with spinning saw blades, they are fed only one meal a day (not counting the chewing gum they get for lunch), and worst of all, Count Olaf lurks in a dreadful disguise as Shirley the receptionist just down the street. Not even the clever wordplay and ludicrous plot twists could keep this story buoyant--reading about the mean-spirited foreman, the deadly blades, poor Klaus (hypnotized and "reprogrammed"), and the relentless hopelessness of the children's situation only made us feel gloomy. Fans of these wickedly funny, suspenseful adventures won't want to miss out on a single one, but we're hoping the next tales have the delicate balance of delight and disaster we've come to expect from this exciting series. (Ages 9 to 12) [via]