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The Beatrice Letters: A Series of Unfortunate Events

Review

The Beatrice Letters: A Series of Unfortunate Events

written by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist

Fans of Lemony Snicket's beloved A Series of Unfortunate Events are eagerly awaiting the thirteenth and final installment in this funny, enigmatic and intriguing series. Now hardcore Snicket aficionados have something to really sink their teeth into, in the form of THE BEATRICE LETTERS, a puzzling publication that will keep readers guessing up until (and probably long after) the series reaches its inevitable end.

Who, you might ask, is Beatrice? Casual readers of A Series of Unfortunate Events know her best as the subject of each book's dedication. (For example: "For Beatrice- When we met my life began, Soon afterward, yours ended.") More dedicated fans have speculated about this mystery woman, the tragic object of the author's apparent undying love. With THE BEATRICE LETTERS, these die-hard fans have plenty to keep them busy as they struggle to piece together the clues, and the codes, hidden inside. As the author's note on the back cover reads, "Top secret --- only for readers deeply interested in the Baudelaire case. How I pity those readers."

THE BEATRICE LETTERS is a beautifully designed package, containing a large full-color, two-sided poster and a smaller book containing a series of letters to and from the mysterious Beatrice. I can't say too much about these letters without giving away some key clues, but suffice it to say that they involve lost relatives, secret identities, hidden codes and root beer floats. In addition to being a series of letters (here meaning "telegrams, calling cards, and the like"), THE BEATRICE LETTERS also contains a different series of letters, a punch-out alphabet that, when rearranged, may spell out a secret anagram.

Like many of the books in Snicket's remarkable series, THE BEATRICE LETTERS has hidden depths that extend beyond its mysteries and codes. In addition to including in-jokes for his many fans, Snicket incorporates what could, surprisingly, be one of the most touching and heartfelt (if absurd) love letters ever written: "I will love you if I never see you again, and I will love you if I see you every Tuesday.... I will love you as the starfish loves a coral reef and as kudzu loves trees, even if the oceans turn to sawdust and the trees fall in the forest without anyone around to hear them." If anything, THE BEATRICE LETTERS only heightens the stakes, and the anticipation, for Snicket's eagerly awaited Book the Thirteenth.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on September 5, 2006

The Beatrice Letters: A Series of Unfortunate Events
(A Series of Unfortunate Events #14)
written by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist

  • Publication Date: September 5, 2006
  • Hardcover: 72 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 0060586583
  • ISBN-13: 9780060586584