Title: A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Grim Grotto.
Author: Lemony Snicket.
Genre: Fiction, steam-punk, children's lit, YA, teen, adventure.
Publication Date: October 13, 2006.
Summary: Like an off-key violin concert, the Roman Empire, or food poisoning, all things must come to an end. Thankfully, this includes A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. The thirteenth and final installment will answer the most burning questions: Will Count Olaf prevail? Will the Baudelaires survive? Will the series end happily? If there′s nothing out there, what was that noise? Then again, why trouble yourself with unfortunate resolutions?
My rating: 9/10.
♥ It is useless for me to describe to you how terrible Violet, Klaus, and even Sunny felt in the hours that followed. Most people who have survived a storm at sea are so shaken by the experience that they never want to speak of it again, and so if a writer wishes to describe a storm at sea, his only method of research is to stand on a large, wooden boat with a notebook and pen, ready to take notes should a storm suddenly strike. But I have already stood on a large, wooden boat with a notebook and pen, ready to take notes should a storm suddenly strike, and by the time the storm cleared I was so shaken by the experience that I never wanted to speak of it again. So it is useless for me to describe the force of the wind that tore through the sails as if they were paper, and sent the boat spinning like an ice-skater showing off. It is impossible for me to convey the volume of rain that fell, drenching the Baudelaires in freezing water so their concierge uniforms clung to them like an extra layer of soaked and icy skin. It is futile for me to portray the streaks of lightning that clattered down from the swirling clouds, striking the mast of the boat and sending it toppling into the churning sea. It is inadequate for me to report on the deafening thunder that rang in the Baudelaires' ears, and it is superfluous for me to recount how the boat began to tilt back and forth, sending all of its contents tumbling into the ocean: first the can of beans, hitting the surface of the water with a loud glop!, and then the spatulas, the lightning reflecting off their mirrored surfaces as they disappeared into the swirling tides, and lastly the sheets Violet had taken from the hotel laundry room and fashioned into a drag chute so the boat would survive its drop from the rooftop sunbathing salon, billowing in the stormy air like jellyfish before sinking into the sea. It is worthless for me to specify the increasing size of the waves rising out of water, first like shark fins, and then like tents, and then finally like glaciers, their icy peaks climbing higher and higher until they finally came crashing down on the soaked and crippled boat with an unearthly roar like the laughter of some terrible beast. It is bootless for me to render an account of the Baudelaire orphans clinging to one another in fear and desperation, certain that at any moment they would be dragged away and tossed to their watery graves, while Count Olaf clung to the harpoon gun and the wooden figurehead, as if a terrible weapon and a deadly fungus were the only things he loved in the world, and it is of no earthly use to provide a report on the front of the figurehead detaching from the boat with a deafening crackle, sending the Baudelaires spinning in one direction and Olaf spinning in the other, or the sudden jolt as the rest of the boat abruptly stopped spinning, and a horrible scraping sound came from beneath the shuddering wood floor of the craft, as if a gigantic hand were grabbing the remains of the Count Olaf from below, and holding the trembling siblings in its strong and steady grip. Certainly the Baudelaires did not find it necessary to wonder what had happened now, after all those terrible, whirling hours in the heart of the storm, but simply crawled together to a far corner of the boat, and huddled against one another, too stunned to cry, as they listened to the sea rage around them, and heard the frantic cries of Count Olaf, wondering if he were being torn limb from limb by the furious storm, or if he, too, had found some strange safety, and not knowing which fate they wished upon the man who had flung so much misfortune on the three of them. There is no need for me to describe this storm, as it would only be another layer of this unfortunate onion of a story, and in any case by the time the sun rose the next morning, the swirling black clouds were already scurrying away from the bedraggled Baudelaires, and the air was silent and still, as if the whole evening had only been a ghastly nightmare.
♥ If you are a braeman or braewoman - a term for someone who lives all alone on a hill - then peer pressure is fairly easy to avoid, as you have no peers except for the occasional wild sheep who may wander near your cave and try to pressure you into growing a woolly coat. But if you live among people, whether they are people in your family, in your school, or in your secret organization, then every moment of your life is an incident of peer pressure, and you cannot avoid it any more than a boat at sea can avoid a surrounding storm. If you wake up in the morning at a particular time, when you would rather hide your head under your pillow until you are too hungry to stand it any longer, then you are succumbing to the peer pressure of your warden or morning butler. If you eat a breakfast that someone prepares for you, or prepare your own breakfast from food you have purchased, when you would rather stomp your feet and demand delicacies from faraway lands, then you are succumbing to the peer pressure of your grocer or breakfast chef. All day long, everyone in the world is succumbing to peer pressure, whether it is the pressure of their fourth grade peers to play dodge ball during recess or the pressure of their fellow circus performers to balance rubber balls on their noses, and if you try to avoid every instance of peer pressure you will end up without any peers whatsoever, and the trick is to succumb to enough pressure that you do not drive your peers away, but not so much that you end up in a situation in which you are dead or otherwise uncomfortable. This is a difficult trick, and most people never master it, and end up dead or uncomfortable at least once during their lives.
♥ The phrase "in the dark", as I'm sure you know, can refer not only to one's shadowy surroundings, but also to the shadowy secrets of which one might be unaware. Every day, the sun goes down over all these secrets, and so everyone is in the dark in one way or another. If you are sunbathing in a park, for instance, but you do9 not know that a locked cabinet is buried fifty feet beneath your blanket, then you are in the dark even though you are not actually in the dark, whereas if you are on a midnight hike, knowing full well that several ballerinas are following close behind you, then you are not in the dark even if you are in fact in the dark. Of course, it is quite possible to be in the dark in the dark, as well as to be not in the dark not in the dark, but there are so many secrets in the world that it is likely that you are always in the dark about one thing or another, whether you are in the dark in the dark or in the dark not in the dark, although the sun can go down so quickly that you may be in the dark about being in the dark in the dark, only to look around and find yourself n longer in the dark about being in the dark in the dark, but in the dark in the dark nonetheless, not only because of the dark, but because of the ballerinas in the dark, who are not in the dark about the dark, but also not in the dark about the locked cabinet, and you may be in the dark about the ballerinas digging up the locked cabinet in the dark, even though you are no longer in the dark about being in the dark, and so you are in fact in the dark about being in the dark, even though you are not in the dark about being in the dark, and so you may fall into the hole that ballerinas have dug, which is dark, in the dark, and in the park.
♥ It is almost as if happiness is an acquired taste, like coconut cordial or ceviche, to which you can eventually become accustomed, but despair is something surprising each time you encounter it.
♥ There is a kind of crying I hope you have not experienced, and it is not just crying about something terrible that has happened, but a crying for all of the terrible things that have happened, not just to you but to everyone you know and to everyone you don't know and even the people you don't want to know, and crying that cannot be diluted by a brave deed or a kind word, but only by someone holding you as your shoulders shake and your tears run down your face. Sunny held Kit, and Violet held Klaus, and for a minute the four castaways did nothing but weep, letting their tears run down their faces and into the sea, which some have said is nothing but a library of all the tears in history. Kit and the children let their sadness join the sadness of the world, and cried for all of the people who were lost to them. They cried for Dewey Denouement, and for the Quagmire triplets, and for all of their companions and guardians, friends and associates, and for all of the failures they could forgive and all of the treacheries they could endure. They cried for the world, and most of all, of course, the Baudelaire orphans cried for their parents, who they knew, finally, they would never see again. Even though Kit Snicket had not brought news of their parents, her story of the Great Unknown made them see at last that the people who had written all those chapters in A Series of Unfortunate Events were gone forever into the great unknown, and that Violet, Klaus, and Sunny would be orphans forever, too.