Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Miserable Mill

2000, first edition, from HarperCollins
Lemony Snicket
Illustrated by Brett Helquist
A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book the Fourth: The Miserable Mill
Original and/or purchase price unknown
Hardcover in good condition

Although this is still a solid entry in the series, there is a drop in quality.  It's partly that I didn't think the setting was as interesting, and partly that I didn't like the thread of Klaus being hypnotized to cause accidents.  Also, Olaf doesn't show up until pretty far into the book, and I have mixed feelings about him disguising himself as a woman.  Not to be overly p.c., but I was already bothered by the character who's not clearly a man or a woman.  I'm not saying Snicket is homophobic, or transphobic, but there is a tradition (even in children's literature) of androgyny being evil.  (Like albinos being evil.)  It doesn't bother me a lot, no more than I'm bothered by the fatness of Vernon and Dudley Dursley, but I am conscious of it.

As for Helquist, he of course really plays up the "eye" theme, which is stronger than ever here.  I kept wondering if there were Great Gatsby connections.  It is significant that the optometrist is named Georgina Orwell, which connects to the "watching" motif.

I'm missing The Austere Academy, so we'll jump ahead to #6, The Ersatz Elevator in 2001.

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