Series Week III: The Carnivorous Carnival

Happy Easter, everyone!

The Carnivorous Carnival is the ninth book in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. It was published in 2002 by HarperCollins.

Genre: Children’s, Mystery


“Dear Reader,

The word “carnivorous,” which appears in the title of this book, means “meat-eating,” and once you have read such a bloodthirsty word, there is no reason to read any further. This carnivorous volume contains such a distressing story that consuming any of its contents would be far more stomach-turning than even the most imbalanced meal.

To avoid causing discomfort, it would be best if I didn’t mention any of the unnerving ingredients of this story, particularly a confusing map, an ambidextrous person, an unruly crowd, a wooden plank, and Chabo the Wolf Baby.

Sadly for me, my time is filled with researching and recording the displeasing and disenchanting lives of the Baudelaire orphans. But your time might be better filled with something more palatable, such as eating your vegetables, or feeding them to someone else.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket”

~Back Cover


“Here’s some kind of fancy shirt,” Klaus said. “It’s covered in ruffles and bows. And here’s an enormous pair of pants with fur on the cuffs.”

“Could both of us wear them at once?” Violet asked.

“Both of us?” Klaus asked. “I suppose so, if we kept on our clothes underneath, so Olaf’s would fit. We could each stand on one leg, and tuck our other legs inside. We’d have to lean against one another as we walked, but I think it might work.”

“And we could do the same thing with the shirt,” Violet said. “We could each put one arm through a sleeve and keep the other tucked inside.”

“But we couldn’t hide one of our heads,” Klaus pointed out, “and with both of our heads poking out of the top we’d look like some sort of—”

“—two-headed person,” Violet finished, “and a two-headed person is exactly what a House of Freaks would put on display.”

~Snicket 41-42

Cover Art 1

“If someone had been watching the youngsters, they would have seen these few hesitant steps as they entered the fortune-teller’s tent as quietly as they could. But there was no one watching. There was no one to see the flap of cloth as it closed quietly behind them, making the whole tent shiver ever so slightly, and there was no one to notice that the painting shivered, too. There was no one watching the Baudelaire orphans as they drew closer to finding the answers to their questions, or solving the mysteries of their lives. There was no one to take a long look at the painting on the tent to see that it was not an image of an eye, as it appeared to be at first glance, but an insignia, standing for an organization the children knew only as V.F.D.”

~Snicket 121

“Embroidered on the front of the gown in glittery thread were the worlds I LOVE FREAKS, except instead of the word “love” there was an enormous heart, a symbol sometimes used by people who have trouble figuring out the difference between words and shapes.”

~Snicket 175


“For Beatrice—Our love broke my heart, and stopped yours.”

Warnings: Death. What do you expect from a title like The Carnivorous Carnival?

Recommended Age Range: 10+

Rating: 3/5

What I Liked:

References! Elliot and Beverly, “John” Merrick, Caligari Carnival, Hugo, “Dragnet!” (this is why Sunny is my favorite), Plath Pass.

This is the first book where Olaf does not have a disguise and the second where the Baudelaires do.

We learn quite a bit about V.F.D. in this one. So far, we know that the first word is “volunteer” and actually, Olivia gives quite a big hint as to what the last two letters are. A big hint, but slid in very subtly. We also find out that there was a schism and that VDF’s insignia is an eye. It’s also safe to say that Olaf is on one side of the schism and Jacques Snicket was on the other.

VFD’s insignia. See the eye and the letters?

Sunny! I say this every review, but…Sunny! Or should I say Chabo? This book marks the beginning of Sunny’s other skill besides biting! It gets more developed in the next book, but its early stages can be seen here.

Heh, Geraldine Julienne’s headlines. Too bad she’s annoying as well as misinformed.

There’s another gruesome death(s) in here, and the Baudelaires do some more soul-searching, wondering if they’re villains or not.

What I Didn’t Like:

Every single visitor to the Caligari Carnival. Why in the world would you want to see anyone get eaten by lions? These people take depraved to a whole other level. It also made it very unrealistic, but then again, this series seems to revel in that…

Cover Art 2

People/Places/Things to Keep in Mind:

–Olivia’s story about V.F.D., especially the schism

–the lions and what they were originally trained to do

Last Picture:

There is a Snow Scouts Handbook, referencing The Slippery Slope.

Overall Review:

The Carnivorous Carnival actually fills in quite a few gaps—not  completely, but enough to whet the reader’s appetite. Sunny is brilliant, as always, and the adults are annoying, as always. The ending in particular is much more cliffhanger-y than usual. This book, especially that ending, really picks up the action, but in a way that shows there’s not much more to go. In other words: it’s about to get even more unfortunate, even more mysterious, and even more exciting.

Coming Up Next: The Slippery Slope