Hypable Reader Review: ‘Who Could That Be at This Hour?’ by Lemony Snicket

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11:45 am EDT, November 7, 2012

by JON97

Lemony Snicket, the author of A Series of Unfortunate Events, has not published a book in quite some time. Many of us have read the series and enjoy the mystery and hilarity of Mr. Snicket’s writing. On October 23, he published a new book that will surely not disappoint fans of his other series.

Who Could That Be at This Hour? is book one of four in Lemony’s new All The Wrong Questions series. This tale follows young Lemony Snicket on an adventure to a small, practically empty town called Stain’d-by-the-Sea with his chaperone, S. Theodora Markson. When they arrive at the town, they meet Mrs. Sallis, an old woman who hired them to steal a statue that is worth a fortune that was stolen from her… or was it hers in the first place? Lemony and S. Theodora Markson start the investigation feeling confident, but after only a short time, everything they planned goes wrong and Lemony starts to ask all the wrong questions.

The characters in this book are as fun and mysterious as the ones in A Series of Unfortunate Events. In Snicket’s new book we meet Moxie Mallahan, a young, tough as nails reporter for a newspaper that doesn’t exist anymore, who joins Lemony on his investigation. We also meet Ellington Feint, who loves coffee and ends up being more trouble than she seems, and Dashiell Qwerty, the town’s clueless, sub-librarian. All of these characters are well-thought out and contain the “Snicket touch” that we all know and love.

One character in particular that I found comical was S. Theodora Markson, the chaperone of Lemony. Her character worked very well with Lemony whenever they shared dialogue and really made the book flow. She wasn’t exactly kind; however, she was a great character to read about. Throughout the book Lemony and other characters continue to ask her what the “S” in her name stands for, and by the end of the book we are left with no clue as to what it means, because she either answers with another one of her countless demands or another question, which makes me wonder if she is hiding something. One part in particular I enjoyed showed how much fun Snicket has with his stories and the characters within. Here is a quote from the book:

I led her into the newsroom, removed the sheet, and pointed to the statue of the Bombinating beast. She gestured to me that I should be the one to take it. I gestured back that she was the chaperone and the leader of this caper. She gestured to me that I shouldn’t argue. I gestured to her that I was the one who had gotten us into the house in the first place. She gestured to me that my predecessor knew that the apprentice should never argue with the chaperone or complain and that I might model my own behavior after his. I gestured to her asking what the S stood for in her name, and she replied with a very rude gesture, and I grabbed the statue and tucked it into my vest.

Snicket always knows how to throw in a bit of humor and make the story fun for older audiences as well as younger ones.

I would not call this a continuation of A Series of Unfortunate Events, but this is obviously backstory on Lemony Snicket’s character. The Snicket family played a big role in the last couple of books of A Series of Unfortunate Events, but we never really get to know Lemony himself. I think this is to show how the VFD started and to tell more about the characters we recognize from A Series of Unfortunate Events. One character that was mentioned was Monty (Dr. Montgomery Montgomery); the Baudelaire orphans’ “late father’s cousin’s wife’s brother” that we met in The Reptile Room. Another is Hector from The Vile Village, who helped the Quagmire twins escape a mob of villagers in his self-sustaining hot air balloon. Hector, like Lemony, is quite young in this book, which leads me to believe that this series will be the prequel to A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Who Could That Be at This Hour?, to me, is flawless. Yes you could pick it apart and ridicule it, but why? There is no need to. It’s a fun book to read. When I read it, it lightened my mood and made me want to read more. This is a children’s book, and there is no doubt in my mind that children will love it. I’m a teenager and I even enjoyed it. Snicket works his magic once again and I bet he will do it over and over and over again with his next three books in the series.

Who Could That Be at This Hour? is a story filled with the classic Snicket humor and adventure that is eminent throughout his other books. It is a book for children of all ages, but even the oldest reader will enjoy this wonderfully written tale.

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