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The Penultimate Peril

Review

The Penultimate Peril

written by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist

"You're not children anymore," a desperate Kit Snicket tells Violet, Klaus and Sunny in the opening pages of Lemony Snicket's THE PENULTIMATE PERIL. "You're volunteers, ready to face the challenges of a desperate and perplexing world." Indeed, in this adventure the profoundly unlucky Baudelaire orphans face dilemmas more perplexing and desperate than any they've faced in the previous eleven books in A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Now that they've reached the Hotel Denouement, the hapless siblings must pose as concierges, heavily disguised to protect their identities, and discern the true motives and identities of the hotel's many mysterious guests. Indeed, during their explorations of the massive hotel, the Baudelaires encounter characters from nearly every one of their previous misadventures (including that cakesniffer Carmelita and the always "in" Esme Squalor).

The Hotel Denouement is full of secrets, able to be unlocked only by those who really understand the Dewey Decimal System. From the rooftop sunbathing deck to the laundry room, the Baudelaires try to sort out the volunteers from the villains, hoping against hope that they're not "wrong, wrong, wrong."

Lemony Snicket's twelfth book lacks none of the verbal wit and clever snarkiness that have made this series so popular. Indeed, now that youngest sibling Sunny is speaking more clearly, her dialogue contributes even more to the clever wordplay at which these books excel. Some surprising secrets are in store, as well as a real cliffhanger of an ending, which promises to make the series much more complex than anyone would have imagined.

Even though Lemony Snicket would tell you to toss THE PENULTIMATE PERIL into the nearest puddle or pond, it's definitely worth keeping up with the ongoing saga of the world's most trouble-prone siblings. The only unfortunate thing will be the wait for the series's final installment!

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on January 1, 2005

The Penultimate Peril
(A Series of Unfortunate Events #12)
written by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist

  • Publication Date: January 1, 2005
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 0064410153
  • ISBN-13: 9780064410151