#813: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

The Bad BeginningDear 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



The Bad Beginning is a very frustrating story. Knowing it is the first in a thirteen book series, I’m sure it can only become even more frustrating.

I love stories when they don’t prescribe to conventional happy endings. I love stories filled with misery and despair. I feel those stories can really test characters and create a relatable read, but with children? I don’t even want children, but reading stories about child abuse disturbs me. I’ve read plenty of accounts of real-life child abuse stories, usually ones in the genre of abnormal psychology, and those ones make me want to vomit. Understandably. They are non-fiction after all.

Even though The Bad Beginning is fiction, I still found it to be an upsetting read, but if we can get past that there’s reasons I think it’s a great book and one young adults should be reading.

Life isn’t all fun and games. A lot of people, fortunately for them, don’t realise how much life isn’t fun and games until they are an adult. I’m one of the adults who got to learn that life lesson at a young age and continued to do so until well into my adult life.

Which is why I think it’s important to have stories such as The Bad Beginning. It’s very well written. So much so you can’t help but feel instant adoration for the Baudelaire children. They’re adorable, they’re intelligent, and of course it helps when you’re a reader and they’re book lovers.

Then Count Olaf is introduced and, ugh, what a wretched character! A great character simply due to his wretchedness and the way he makes me feel; which is to make this pacifist want to strangle him if he was an actual person.

Lemony Snicket isn’t coy about the misery of the story either. The author let’s you know well in advance this is not a happy story, nor does it involve a happy ending. You’re not only warned in the beginning, but you are warned more than once. There may have been a heads-up for what the story entails, and yes I have seen the movie as well, but I was still frustrated.

Mr Poe is an idiot! That’s all I have to say about Mr Poe just in case more would be a spoiler for those who have not read A Series of Unfortunate Events.

I appreciated how the story was delivered. I may have skipped the parts where the meaning of certain words were explained, but if I had children, I would recommend this book for young readers simply for those explanations. It’s a good vocabulary builder and doesn’t necessarily dumb the book down.

I also got a kick out of the names of Mr Poe and his children. That wasn’t a subtle homage to the famous poet at all, but awesome.

I would recommend reading The Bad Beginning simply to experience the writing and the story itself. I would most definitely recommend this to a younger adult audience who have a love for reading. The books themselves are quite short and I finished The Bad Beginning in just over an hour. Perhaps they could be a good starting point for young readers who want to read something a bit darker.

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