Jun 15, 2018

[Books] The Grim Grotto (A Series of Unfortunate Events Book 11) Review

The events of The Slippery Slope certain ended with quite the climax that was always bittersweet as the Baudelaires had cemented a new friendship only to be separated from him in the end. But at the very least the Baudelaire siblings are together again after being separated by Count Olaf for some time.

The Grim Grotto immediately continues their adventures after the last book and their search for more information about V.F.D. and perhaps the true fate of their parents. It's a chance to continue to persevere against all odds and hopefully outsmart the vile Count Olaf and his crew.

This book continues to explore the remnants of V.F.D. perhaps mainly through what had been left behind. Help for the Baudelaires appears to be unlikely save for a few surprise allies waiting in the depths.

Synopsis: The Grim Grotto is the 11th book in the Lemony Snicket book series, A Series of Unfortunate Events. As there are 13 books in the series, the end isn't too far off now.

The story begins with the Baudelaires drifting down the river after being separated by Quigley Quagmire, the third Quagmire sibling that had turned out to be alive in the last book. They somehow stumble across the Queequeg, a submarine under the command of Captain Widdershins whose motto is all about never hesitating to act. This makes him seem a bit reckless save for the rational presence of his stepdaughter Fiona that helps keep him in line. In contrast she's an aspiring mycologist, which means someone who studies mushrooms and other fungi. And they have been searching the area for a sugar bowl that for some reason is very important.

They work together to figure out where the sugar bowl might have drifted to after a Volunteer had supposedly saved it from the other group fromed from the V.F.D. schism. And this other group apparently involves Count Olaf, who continues to keep an eye out for them as he advances his other plans. But finding the sugar bowl is but one quest among many others as they try to avoid detection by Count Olaf and find out more about the once might V.F.D.

What I Liked: The last book really established a lot of new information about the secretive organization of V.F.D. And now it seems that almost everything has become related to the orgsanization and the bitter schism that had split the group in two. And that ads an interesting flavor to things as even the submarines and ocean facilities they use all represent this or that part of the organization's assets before.

I am also appreciating the steady progression of the Baudelaires to be more than just orphan kids on the run to perhaps becoming the newest recruits for V.F.D. even without formal training or being properly introduced into the group. It's a little thing but the implications in the long term make things more interesting and really have the children examining what is truly important to them and what their principles are shaping out to be.

And so many other twists in this book!

What Could Have Been Better: The character of Captain Widdershins is a very unnusual one and while his dedication to his motto is an initially amusing quirk, it all gets old pretty quickly. It's sort of a small blessing that he's only really active in the beginning of the book, but that doesn't quite explain why he really drops off the radar later on. It all felt like a weird narrative dead end.

The sugar bowl remains to be a rather unfuriating McGuffin that has practically come out of nowhere to be a majorly important element of this story. I wish we had more information about it and better understood why it was so important to find it but we don't get to question and we just go on trying. I think this could have been a little better managed, but that may just be me.

TL;DR: The Grim Grotto is a pretty intense book with the Baudelaire children really needing to step up. But they're not just running away this time - perhaps they are getting close to standing a real chance of fighting back. Thus the book gets a great 4.5 dangerous things left behind by V.F.D. out of a possible 5.


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