May 14, 2018

[Books] The Vile Village (A Series of Unfortunate Events Book 7)

My continuing adventures with the A Series of Unforunate Events books continues to be quite the fascinating one as more and more the mysteries around "VFD" build. But answers remain in rather short supply despite the best efforts of the Baudelaires to get to the bottom of things. But true to the title, more bad stuff just continues to happen, making things more and more difficult.

The second season of the TV series included the material in this book, The Vile Village, athough I couldn't quite get what was going on or why this was supposed to factor in, at least at first. But in did make for an entertaining part of the story. Reading the book helped me better appreciate its role in the larger scheme of things but man those were a lot of birds.

This is definitely one of the instances when the TV series had some significant deviations from the original story of the books and I can understand why it was so. It does make for an interesting perspective to compare the before and after, so to speak, as it all makes good sense in the long term.

Synopsis: The Vile Village is the seventh book in Lemon Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events book series. Welcome to the halfway point of the series. Things are not going to get better any time soon.

Given the adage "it takes a village...", the Baudelaires are entrused to an entire village that has pledged to handle their care. But in truth their interpretation of the old saying was that it meant the Baudelaires would do everyone's chores as they were all acting as their parents / guardians. And this unusual village also happens to be called VFD as it turns out to be the Village of Fowl Devotees who are dedicated to caring for the unusually large murder of crows that calls VFD home. And this has resulted in a ridiculous number of rules being enforced in town including a general disdain for mechanical devices.

But the Baudelaires start to find small slips of paper that have couplets written on them - which leads then to think that the Quagmires are somehow nearby. And that's not unrealistic to think as a woman who is clearly Esmé Squalor becomes the new sheriff of the town and she is aided by a Detective Dupin, who is clearly Count Olaf. And when the news breaks out that Count Olaf has finally been arrested, it's clear that this has not been the case and someone else is is being framed for Olaf's crimes.

What I Liked: This books, and the many that follow it, really start to up the level of VFD related puns. As if the reveal in the last book about the box of Very Fine Doilies wasn't crazy enough, having a whole village whose name seems to be related to the mysterious VFD but we don't quite know why. There are more VFD definitions brought into the story, especially when matters of how to deliver messages comes up and other somewhat clandestine efforts. But that's just par for the course in terms of how Lemony Snicket presents the whole secret society aspect to things. Or maybe he and the members of VFD just like puns and being clever in general.

I rather liked the angle about the couplets being used to deliver a message as it tied back to the sort of clever mysteries that felt stronger in the first few books in the series. The more recent ones had them needing to apply more practical abilities to keep ahead of their enemies and not necessarily big elaborate plans. And I'm not even talking about Violet's inventions and the lack thereof at times but more just the sort of careful planning and thinking to find novel solutions to problems. And this book nicely went back to that sort of thing.

But man, the brief introduction of Jacques Snicket into the story as the man framed to be Count Olaf certainly made its mark on things. So many more questions!

What Could Have Been Better: I wish we had more time with Jacques, not necessarily in this book. To bring him into this story only to have him removed so quickly as well. But that's just the sort of writer Lemony Snicket is, I suppose. He keeps the full truth from us at arm's length as an effort to protect our delicate sensibilities or something like that. But this is just like when the letters VFD were first uttered together. We again have no idea what's going on and who Jacques was and his involvement in matters.

The Village of Fowl Devotees is defintiely one of the weirder answers to who could act as a guardian for the Baudelaires. It sort of make sense as a single sentence maybe in terms of "it takes a village" but in practice is was pretty ridiculous. I know this is par for the course when it comes to these books as he presents some crazy ideas as matter of fact truth. But we gotta call out some ideas and this is one of them.

TL;DR: The Vile Village repreesnts an interesting turning point in the series as the Baudelaires need to take on more drastic measures in order to survive. With the authories thinking that Count Olaf has already been neutralized as a problem, that leaves him and his crew free to do a lot more in order to get their hands on the Baudelaire fortune. Thus the book gets a good 4 message-delivering crows out of a possible 5.


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