Saturday, November 12, 2005

44. The Grim Grotto

by Lemony Snicket

This was the first time that I was actually kind of happy that the Series of Unfortunate Events has a foreseeable end. I’m mostly getting a little weary of the gimmicks Snicket uses to distract his readers from the story, in this case a continual reminder of how boring, dull, and repetitive the water cycle is. While it does get his point across and the intended effect is reached, each time I came across another explanation of evaporation, precipitation, and collection, I couldn’t help but think, My God man! Get on with it!

Also, I’m starting to really want some answers. I’ve invested eleven books in this saga and as yet we have no answers! Only more questions! It’s like the later seasons of The X-Files, where they kept building on the mythology and we were all pretty doubtful that they’d ever be able to get themselves out. The Grim Grotto has led us even further into the Baudelaire’s mystery as they stumble upon a submarine named "The Queegqueg" (and there’s your literary/X-Files reference right there), its captain, Captain Widdershins, and his step-daughter Fiona. The siblings are also reunited with Phil, who comes to us all the way back from Book the Fourth, when they all spent time in Paltryville. Count Olaf and Esme and the rest of the troupe are still on their tails in the hopes of acquiring the Baudelaire fortune and burning down the last safe place for VFD.

Do we know what VFD stands for yet? No. We have other suggestions, such as Volunteer Factual Dispatch and “Verifying Fernald’s Defection,” a headline that appeared in the Daily Punctilio, but we still don’t have a clue as to what VFD really is. It’s starting to drive me crazy. I just want to know! If that weren’t enough suspense, we’ve now got the elusive sugar bowl with which to contend. We don’t know what’s in the sugar bowl or why it’s so important, and neither do the Baudelaires, but we know that Count Olaf wants it desperately and that the siblings must find it before he does as it could hold all the answers to their mystery.

There are some interesting turns in this chapter of the story, though. We learn that Fiona lost her brother long ago and it’s shocking when the two of them reunite and he turns out to be the ever-present Hook-Handed Man of Olaf’s troupe. Although she’s become friends with the Baudelaires and a possible love interest for Klaus, she must decide between doing what she believes is right and remaining loyal to her family. We learn that someone was going to use a deadly form of mushrooms for some foul purposes (and that all you need is a little wasabi to cure you of the effects). And, in the end, we learn that someone has been tracking the Baudelaires adventures, as a Volunteer Factual Dispatch leads them back to Briny Beach where it all began. They run into Mr. Poe, against whom they stand their ground when he tries to lead them away to, most likely, another guardian, but they’re soon whisked away in a cab by a mysterious stranger who turns out to be none other than Kit Snicket.

We’re this close to learning how our author is a part of the entire series and I could wet my pants in anticipation.

Maybe it’s not that I’m tired of the Baudelaires’ plight. Maybe I just can’t stand the suspense anymore and am about to burst with curiosity over how this thing will finally come to an end. Snicket’s got two books to bring it all together and I’m waiting with bated breath.

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