Lemony Snicket,
A Series of Unfortunate Events,
#3: The Wide Window

(HarperCollins, 2000)

The tragic saga of the Baudelaire orphans continues in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, as the well-meaning but oblivious Mr. Poe places the three children in the care of a distant relative, "Aunt" Josephine. Aunt Josephine is caring, intelligent, obsessed with grammar and polyphobic. Her multitudinous fears make her an inept guardian, and certainly no match for the "kindly" Captain Sham, whom everyone but Aunt Josephine and Mr. Poe will immediately recognize as Count Olaf in disguise. Of course, tragedy ensues.

I felt that this book had dropped a half-notch in quality from the first two books of the series. The pace seemed rushed and the plot sketchy, while Aunt Josephine and Mr. Poe were too thick and gullible to be credible. The scene where a fire is started by concentrating moonlight with telescope lenses is physically impossible, and I would bet that many of the younger readers will know this, or learn it quickly, from experience. The first two books gave me the impression that they flowed right from the author's imagination, whereas this one felt like it was driven by, "Oh, it's time for me to write another book, so I'd better do it."

Now that I have my gripes out of the way, I want to make it clear that I still feel this to be a good story that was fun to read. The Wide Window just did not quite meet the high standards set by the first two books of the series.

by Chris McCallister
7 October 2006

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