Have you ever heard of the game hot potato? Played at most birthday parties it is a rather silly game. The object is to bake the potato, then pass it along your peers, trying to hold on to the potato for the least amount of time. Why? For entertainment, for fun, to see that one friend you really do not like having their hands burnt by a hot vegetable. Yet that was how the Baudelaire’s felt, as if they were the hot potato. They were indeed not potatoes nor actually burning, yet they were children passed from one relative they do not know of another, in hopes to stay away from their original guardian: Count Olaf. After a fire destroyed their home and killing their parents along with in, Violet, Klaus and Sunny were placed in the care of Count Olaf, the villain of this miserable story. When trying to marry Violet (who is fourteen by the way), Olaf was defeated and ran away, only to spring back up killing the children’s current guardian, Uncle Monty, and trying to steal the children away to Peru. Defeated yet again by the children’s banker Mr. Poe, it seems as if wherever the children go, Olaf is right behind them.
Aunt Josephine; their second cousin’s sister-in-law, yet another relative their parents have never mentioned, and the children find themselves in her care. Where Olaf was a terrible guardian, and a terrible man all together, Monty was nice and kind and actual good guardian for the short time he was one, Josephine, well she sadly ranks up there with Olaf on people who should never have kids. She was afraid of everything: doorknobs, oven, realtors, but most importantly Lake Lachrymose. A lake she loved as a child, but lost her dear late husband, Ike, too when instead of waiting an hour after eating waited forty-five minutes and was eaten by the lachrymose leeches. From her house (which sits 25% on land, 75% extended above the cliff) Josephine can look out across the lake from her library window, fearful of ever getting near its waters again. With this terrified woman as their guardian, Captain Sham showing up who looks like Count Olaf with a pegged leg where his left (and tattooed ankle) should be, the children once again have to use their wits to try and save their guardian, arrest Olaf, and seek a happy ending. If only Josephine shared the same views as them.
Lemony Snicket uses his melodramatic ways to creep into your heart and steal all happiness you could have been feeling. After all, this is book three of thirteen, all you want is something happy to happen to these children, and yet Snicket uses that as leverage to make you keep reading, giving you snippets of happiness here and there, yet it is never fully there. Poe keeps viewing the Baudelaire as children, even after when living with Olaf, they told him how horrible he is, and then when they proved Stephano was Olaf again. Two out of two shows Olaf is not someone to mess with, yet Poe can only see Captain Sham as a sailboat rental owner, and not the actor he truly is. Josephine herself is a more present character, as she takes the coward’s way out each time, forcing the children to make tough and life threatening choices. With fast writing and a moving plot, Snicket reports another unfortunate even for the children, with the hopes that the next one is going to be the last, but it probably will not be.