Review: The Austere Academy

The Austere Academy: Book the Fifth (A Series of Unfortunate Events)The Austere Academy
by Lemony Snicket

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Series of Unfortunate Events 5: The Austere Academy / 9780061757174

I first came to this series after watching the tie-in movie "Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate Events". I love the series for its superb characterization, lovely writing, quirky plotlines, and deeply dark humor. This fifth book in the series carries on the tradition and will not disappoint fans.

Like the rest of the novels in this series, this book is very slender and can be whipped through in a few short hours - if it has any drawbacks at all, it would perhaps be the price-to-page ratio. However, the story is engaging and well-told and it's impossible to not be drawn into the drama of the Baudelaire orphans as they struggle to survive in their new "home" as students in the dreadful Prufrock Preparatory School. The schooling is boring and unhelpful, and the mandatory violin concerts every night are shrieky and terrible, but maybe the school security system can finally keep Count Olaf away.

A note about the audiobook edition of this book: like the previous book ("The Miserable Mill"), this installment in the series is narrated by "Lemony Snicket" (who in this case I assume is the author, Handler). Handler is a superb writer, but his narration is a little jarring after the smooth tones of Tim Curry's previous narration (of "The Bad Beginning" and "The Reptile Room"). The overall narration is still worth a listen, but if you're working your way through all the audiobooks, be prepared for some halting moments here and there.

~ Ana Mardoll

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