Within the pages you now hold in your hands, the three siblings endure a car accident, a terrible odor, a deadly serpent, a long knife, a large brass reading lamp, and the reappearance of a person they’d hoped never to see again (goodreads.com).
In The Reptile Room the characters we have come to adore are back with Mr. Poe who places the orphans with their long lost relative Montgomery Montgomery (a.k.a Monty). We find out that Monty is absolutely obsessed with snakes and even has a collection of them in a room in his house. Unfortunately, Monty’s new assistant, Stephano, isn’t who he claims to be and it doesn’t take long for the children to figure this out. However, convincing Monty and Mr. Poe is an incredibly difficult task.
I actually enjoyed this book a lot more than the first one. I thought it was more interesting with the story centering around poisonous snakes, which I am sure most children will find fascinating. Also, I already knew the characters and all that they can accomplish, which provides a more enjoyable story.
Although the plot of each book is rather similar and formulaic, they are still entertaining because of the dark humor that is contained in each chapter. It is funny that the children are more resourceful and competent than the adults, and how Mr. Poe or Monty fail to realize that Stephano is actually Count Olaf no matter what the children say is hilarious as well because of its absurdity. How can they not see it?
I didn’t find the plot of the story to be as dark as the first book. There is a murder in the story and the children discover the body and comment on the way it looks, but it isn’t too grotesque. The children are also blackmailed by Count Olaf threatening to hurt one of them with a knife if they don’t pretend that everything is okay. He always has the knife around and shows it once in a while to remind them.
We were already introduced to our three very unlucky main characters, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny in the first book. Also, we know all about Count Olaf and how much of a horrible person he is. The characters were well developed in the first book, so there really isn’t anything else that we learn about them in this one, except that they are even more resourceful and knowledgeable then we may ever realize.
The new character introduced in this book is Monty who has an incredible fascination with snakes. At first, the children were very concerned that their new caregiver would be a lot like Count Olaf, but they were mistaken. Monty is the best thing that could have happened to the children! He is kind, caring, and provides them with everything they need. They even got their own room and were allowed to set it up however they wanted. He even enjoys their interest in his snakes and explains that they can enter his Reptile Room whenever they want. Monty also wants to take them on his trip to Peru and the children are very shocked and excited!
Everything is going so well with their new caregiver, but I knew that something horrible was going to happen and it didn’t take long. This is after all a series of unfortunate events and it seems that the children will never be happy.
I love the writing of these books because it is complex and doesn’t make things more simple just because the audience for these books is so young. More difficult vocabulary words are used, but then are explained right after so children understand everything they are reading. The author even explains the difference between things. For example, in this book he explains the two different types of panicking and every time something is explained I find it hilarious. The author also discusses morals of some stories and how some of them are absurd. I just find the writing to be extremely enjoyable and entertaining.
In such a short book it is hard to review it well without giving things away. I thought this story was much more exciting and engaging as the children attempt to solve a murder and prove that Stephano isn’t who he says he is. All children will enjoy this story within the Series of Unfortunate Events probably more than the previous book. It is so enjoyable because of the absurdity of things that happen in the book, which makes it so funny. Sunny being able to do things that no infant should ever be able to do, or that no one ever believes the children, or even that Count Olaf always finds a way to escape when he shouldn’t be able to. This is a story to be enjoyed by both children and adults.
My rating: 4.5/5 stars!
My other reviews in this series:
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*photo provided by goodreads.com