Monday, December 16, 2013

The Hostile Hospital

2001, first edition, from HarperCollins
Lemony Snicket
Illustrated by Brett Helquist
A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book the Eighth: The Hostile Hospital
Original and/or purchase price unknown
Hardcover in good condition

Things pick up in this installment, surprisingly thanks to an apparently re-inspired Helquist.  From the smiley-face (not just heart-shaped, as in the text) balloons to the guitar that says, ala Guthrie, "This volunteer fights disease," there are great details.  As for the story, the Baudelaires try to find out more about their parents' deaths (although there may be a survivor of that fire), as they not only elude pursuit for the count's uncommitted murder, but work as file clerks in the hospital of the title.  And following the previous book's anacrostic, we this time get an anagram, suggested by the name "Ana Gram."

I wonder if Snicket realized he was cranking these out too fast and it was hard to maintain a high quality.  (It's still a better series than His Dark Materials of course.)  He slowed down in 2002, so we'll just have Book the Ninth and his "unauthorized autobiography."

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