The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1)

The Bad Beginning


Dear Reader,

I'm sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.

In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.

It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket(Summary and cover courtesy of


Frankly, I didn’t find much about this book remarkable and I’m not sure why the series is so popular.  I read it when I was younger and had a similar impression and didn’t continue the series.  I was hoping as an adult I hadn’t remembered correctly.  What I did find interesting about the book was the vocabulary it taught and how the narrator acted as a character himself interrupting the story at multiple points.  Stylistically it wasn’t my favorite, but I can see how it would be entertaining for some kids.

That being said, my biggest complaint is at the same time the narrator.  I never felt like I got to know any of the characters because the narrator was too busy interrupting.  For example, Violet is supposed to be a particularly clever inventor, but we never see how she things or how things come together so it’s all tell and no show.  I found this very annoying and therefore don’t have much interest in continuing the series.

Warning: Contains child abuse and questionable situations

Rating: 3 stars!

Who should read it? Middle grade kids, but otherwise I’d say skip.

Want to read the whole series?

  • The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events #2)
  • The Wide Window (A Series of Unfortunate Events #3)
  • The Miserable Mill (A Series of Unfortunate Events #4)
  • The Austere Academy (A Series of Unfortunate Events #5)
  • The Ersatz Elevator (A Series of Unfortunate Events #6)
  • The Vile Village (A Series of Unfortunate Events #7)
  • The Hostile Hospital (A Series of Unfortunate Events #8)
  • The Carnivorous Carnival (A Series of Unfortunate Events #9)
  • The Slippery Slope (A Series of Unfortunate Events #10)
  • The Grim Grotto (A Series of Unfortunate Events #11)
  • The Penultimate Peril (A Series of Unfortunate Events #12)
  • The End (A Series of Unfortunate Events #13)