I hope, for your sake, that you have not chosen to read this book because you are in the mood for a pleasant experience. If this is the case, I advise you to put this book down instantaneously, because of all the books describing the unhappy lives of the Baudelaire orphans, The Miserable Mill might be the unhappiest yet. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are sent to Paltryville to work in a lumber mill, and they find disaster and misfortune lurking behind every log.
The pages of this book, I’m sorry to inform you, contain such unpleasantries as a giant pincher machine, a bad casserole, a man with a cloud of smoke where his head should be, a hypnotist, a terrible accident resulting in injury, and coupons (goodreads.com).
In The Miserable Mill the children are sent to Paltryville to stay with their new guardian who has an unpronounceable name. I believe they just call him “sir”. Unlike the other books in this series, I don’t think this caregiver is even related to the children or at least I don’t remember a relationship being mentioned. Anyway, once they arrive the children discover that their new guardian requires them to work at the lumber mill! That’s awful! He doesn’t even care that Sunny is an infant. All of them must work. To make it even worse they are only given a stick of gum to eat for lunch (Sunny can’t even eat that) and then sent back to work for the rest of the day.
I thought the premise of this book was particularly horrible. Child labor is not something to be taken lightly or really joked about in my opinion. Especially when the conditions are as horrible as it is for the Baudelaire children. They work long hours for no pay and are only given gum to eat for the majority of the day. I believe all three of them even have to share a bunk in a dormitory with a bunch of older men and women. The other thing that made this particular novel less entertaining was the lack of humor. Yes, there is some there, but it wasn’t as good as the previous books. I was utterly disappointed.
Although the pacing of the story is fine and it all flows well, it wasn’t really that interesting. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny spend the entire book working at the mill. That is pretty much it. The only things I enjoyed were that Count Olaf didn’t actually appear until later in the story and the children are taken out of their comfort zone as they try to solve their problems.
As in the other books, a horrible accident occurs and this time it at least wasn’t murder. Someone steps in the way of a saw and gets chopped into a bunch of pieces, but at least this scene wasn’t at all described. The only thing said was that the person stepped into the line of the saw, so it wasn’t graphic, but is left up to the imagination.
We already know how resourceful, intelligent, and optimistic the Baudelaire children are and it was interesting to see them in a different situation in this book.
Klaus is always the one who is better at reading and has a much larger vocabulary, but in this book Klaus is unavailable for a time to help Violet and Sunny, so Violet has to read a book and try to figure out how to help Klaus. This part of the book was annoying, yet entertaining because Violet replaces all the words she doesn’t know with “hmm” and there were quite a few of them. She isn’t much of a researcher, but she did end up finding what she was looking for.
Klaus on the other hand, had to switch with Violet and invent something on the spot in order to save someone’s life. He isn’t much of an inventor and he really wonders how his sister manages to do it. Through much thinking he ends up succeeding. Yay!
Sunny, again, uses her teeth to get them out of trouble. Apparently her little teeth can fend off a sword! LOL!
I didn’t have a problem with the writing and I thought some of the information the writer provided was very interesting. For example, we shouldn’t say “quite as mice” because they are not really that quite and instead say “quite as mimes” because that is the correct way to refer to someone who is sneaking around very quietly.
I did not enjoy this one as much as the others, but there were still aspects of it that were entertaining. If you enjoy the series then just read it because it isn’t that long. Maybe you will like it more than I did. The next book takes place at a boarding school and that sounds like it might be a change of pace for these books. Hopefully it is better than this one!
My rating: 3/5 stars!
My other reviews in this series:
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*photo provided by goodreads.com