Title: Why Is This Night Different From All Other Nights?
Author: Lemony Snicket
2017 Book Challenge Entry: An author that uses a pseudonym
Thoughts: I’ve talked about how reading is a thing in my family. We all read and we all love to read and we frequently share books. We will pass them back and forth (my younger brother currently has my copy of Ready Player One and I might want it back like…soon) and will give each other recommendations on the reg. One of the series all the siblings read, on the recommendation of the eldest of our clan, was A Series of Unfortunate Events.
I completely fell in love with Lemony Snicket’s way of storytelling. His voice was something so unique, but the overall theme of family was something so relatable. I thought the books were hilarious in a dark way (which is my way) and the adventure of the Baudelaire children is one I hope to share with my own little nugget once she is here and reading.
That being said, I found myself wondering a few years ago, what in world happened to this guy? Where was he? I mean, thirteen books over the course of years is a lot. He was probably just on vacay. I would be. But fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, and writers gotta write. Right? Imagine my surprise and excitement when I heard on NPR sometime in the fall of 2012 that he had written a new series and the first book was coming out at Christmas!! The series was titled All the Wrong Questions and was being marketed as a noir book for kids.
Are you kidding me?
I love Humphrey Bogart. I love mysteries. I love Lemony Snicket. AND I love good children’s lit. This was going to be brilliant. My wonderful boyfriend at the time, who is now my hubs and baby daddy, got me the first book and has continued to get them for me year in and year out through the publication of the series. It has now concluded and this is the final book in the series.
Unlike How I Met Your Mother, this finale did not disappoint.
The whole thing starts with a 12-year-old Lemony Snicket entering a town called Stain’d by the Sea. He is in training to be a detective and has arrived here with his mentor S. Theodora Markson, who is an incompetent grownup. The town has become abandoned since the draining of the sea and the closing of the main business in town, Ink Inc. The series chronicles Snicket’s adventures, friendships made, and enemies thwarted in the small town.
In an homage to The Maltese Falcon, Snicket comes across a mystery about a statue that has caused a bit of drama. The Bombinating Beast has been much sought after by a villanous character and is causing mayhem left and right for Snicket and his new found friends. As he tries to unravel the mystery of the statue and help those he grows close to, the plot thickens and the reader finds that things, and people, are not always how they appear.
The final installment takes place mostly on a train ride. Murder, trickery and a crazy finale all lead to Snicket making decisions he never thought he would have to make all to help (or hurt) those around him. True to form, Snicket, the real one, weaves a healthy amount of humor into his storytelling. While the sense of cleverness is all too familiar, I was very pleased to see him stretch as an artist. This has flashbacks to his previous books in that he mentions certain names and places that are fun for fans, but the voice is pure Dashiell Hammet. As I was reading all the books, the movie that played in my mind was black and white. The clothes were 1940s. The music came from record players. He paints his worlds so successfully, the reader can’t help but be completely sucked in and surrender to the willing suspension of disbelief.
It’s a super fun ride to hop into this ghosty town and piggy back on Snicket’s mystery. The entire series is super delightful and I was so happy that he concluded this set of adventures as strongly as it started. Usually by the time I reach the end of a series, I’m kind of just in it out of a sense of obligation. Rarely do things end as strongly as they start. This is a lovely exception. While it certainly isn’t what one would call a “happy” series and the ending isn’t necessarily “uplifting”, it’s in the writing of the thing that I find joy. The craft of Snicket’s writing and the world he creates makes me smile, even if the fate of his characters doesn’t. It’s a fast read of a series, and trust me, by the time you get to this installment, you won’t want to put them down.