Series Week III: The Penultimate Peril

The Penultimate Peril is the twelfth book in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. It was published in 2005 by HarperCollins.

Genre: Mystery, Children’s


“Dear Reader,

If this is the first book you found while searching for a book to read next, then the first thing you should know is that this next-to-last book is what you should put down first. Sadly, this book presents the next-to-last chronicle of the lives of the Baudelaire orphans, and it is next-to-first in its supply of misery, despair, and unpleasantness.

Probably the next-to-last things you would like to read about are a harpoon gun, a rooftop sunbathing salon, two mysterious initials, three unidentified triplets, a notorious villain, and an unsavory curry.

Next-to-last things are the first thing to be avoided, and so allow me to recommend that you put this next-to-last book own first, and find something else to read next at last, such as the net-to-last book in another chronicle, or a chronicle containing other next-t-last things, so that this next-to-last book does not become the last book you will read.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket”

~Back Cover


“The Hotel Denouement is organized according to the Dewey Decimal System,” Frank or Ernest explained. “That’s the same way books are organized in many libraries. For instance, if you wanted to find a book on German poetry, you would begin in the section of the library marked 800, which contains book on literature and rhetoric. Similarly, the eighth story of this hotel is reserved for our rhetorical guests. Within the 800 section of a library, you’d find books on German poetry labeled 831, and if you were to take the elevator up to the eighth story and walk into Room 831, you’d find a gathering of German poets. Understand?”

~Snicket 62

“…But of course the Baudelaires were not born yesterday, an expression which means “young or innocent enough to believe things certain people say about the world”….Violet was born more than fifteen years before this particular Wednesday, and Klaus was born approximately two years after that, and even Sunny, who had just passed out of babyhood, was not born yesterday. Neither were you, unless of course I am wrong, in which case welcome to the world, little baby, and congratulations on learning to read so early in life.”

~Snicket 201-202

Cover Art 1


“For Beatrice—No one could extinguish my love, or your house.”

Warnings: Death.

Recommended Age Range: 10+

Rating: 5/5

What I Liked:

Before I started reading this book, I was dreading it a little since I didn’t remember liking it that much the first time around. To my pleasant surprise, the book was a lot better than I remembered it being; in fact, it’s one of my favorite books in the series! I loved the “Not A Chapter” sections and the “Wrong!” of the clock and the return of familiar faces. There were things I didn’t like, though, but we’ll get to those.

References! Denouement, Dewey, Frank and Ernest, Richard Wright, La Forza del Destino, Giuseppe Verdi, “Henribergson.”

The sugar bowl has quite a big plot point in this book; it’s perhaps even the main plot point. This is another sign that the series is coming to a close. It’s kinda sad, actually…

Cover Art 2 (they’re exactly the same. How…boring)

The Baudelaire have another Moral Event Horizon where they wonder if they’re noble or villains. I don’t know if I agree with Snicket/Handler on the views of goodness/villainy, but it’s at least understandable and realistic that the Baudelaires would struggle with this.

Olaf starts getting really interesting in this book. He gets a third dimension added on to his character. It’s…well, interesting.

Also: Hello there, Lemony! Look at you, trying to be so sneaky and mysterious!

What I Didn’t Like:

I must admit, everything I didn’t like is owing to the fact that I know how the series ends, so, unfortunately, I can’t really discuss any of it because I’m trying to keep these reviews at least slightly non-spoilery. However, I will start discussing what I didn’t like in this book in my review of the last as well as in the follow-up post (which will be chock-full of spoilers and speculations).

Fan art by Eric Draven on deviantart

People/Places/Things to Keep in Mind:

–the taxi driver (not Kit, but the one that shows up near the end of the book)

–pay very close attention to everything told/explained about the sugar bowl. If you do, you will know where it is and who has it.

Last Picture:

The Baudelaires and Olaf are in a boat on the sea, referencing The End.

Overall Review:

The Penultimate Peril was a much better book than I remember it being and is one of my favorite in the series. It brings back numerous familiar faces, settles some questions, solves some mysteries, and, of course, raises a whole bunch more. We are almost at the end (The End?) and it is showing.

Coming Up Next: The Beatrice Letters

2 thoughts on “Series Week III: The Penultimate Peril

  1. Pingback: “Shouldn’t You Be in School?” by Lemony Snicket | Leaf's Reviews

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