Series Week III: The Grim Grotto

The Grim Grotto is the eleventh book in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. It was published in 2004 by HarperCollins.

Genre: Children’s, Mystery


“Dear Reader,

Unless you are a slug, a sea anemone, or mildew, you probably prefer not to be damp. You might also prefer not to read this book, in which the Baudelaire siblings encounter an unpleasant amount of dampness as they descend into the depths of despair, underwater.

In fact, the horrors they encounter are too numerous to list, and you wouldn’t want me even to mention the worst of it, which includes mushrooms, a desperate search for something lost, a mechanical monster, a distressing message from a lost friend, and tap dancing.

As a dedicated author who has pledged to keep recording the depressing story of the Baudelaires must continue to delve deep into the cavernous depths of the orphans’ lives. You, on the other hand, may delve into some happier book in order to keep your eyes and your spirits from being dampened.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket”

~Back Cover


“The expression “fits like a glove” is an odd one, because there are many different types of gloves and only a few of them are going to fit the situation you are in. If you need to keep your hands warm in a cold environment, then you’ll need a fitted pair of insulated gloves, and a glove made to fit in the bureau of a dollhouse will be of no help whatsoever. If you need to sneak into a restaurant in the middle of the night and steal a pair of chopsticks without being discovered, then you’ll need a sheer pair of gloves that leave no marks, and a glove decorated with loud bells simply will not do. And if you need to pass unnoticed in a shrubbery-covered landscape, then you’ll need a very, very large glove made of green and leafy fabric, and an elegant pair of silk gloves will be entirely useless.”

~Snicket 63-64

“Guard the orphans, Triangle Eyes,” Count Olaf said. “Although I don’t think you orphans really need to be guarded. After all, there’s nowhere for you to go! Tee hee traction!”

“Giggle giggle gaudy!” Carmelita cried, leading the way out of the Main Hall.

“Ha ha hair trigger!” Esmé screamed, following her.

“Tee hee tonsillectomy!” Count Olaf shrieked, walking behind his girlfriend.

“I also find this amusing!” the hook-handed man yelled, and slammed the door behind him…

~Snicket 289

Cover Art 1


“For Beatrice—Dead women tell no tales. Sad men write them down.”

Warnings: None.

Recommended Age Range: 10+

Rating: 2/5

What I Liked:

References! Queequeg, Herman Melville, Rosetta Stone, Robert Browning’s My Last Duchess, Lewis Carroll’s The Walrus and the Carpenter, T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, Edgar Guest.

I had forgotten about Count Olaf’s new villainous laughter in this book. It’s quite amusing to read. I also love Carmelita calling him “Countie.” That’s like calling Severus Snape “Sevvie.” And now I have this incredible urge to go write some fanfiction…

The Baudelaire’s exploration of the grotto and the decoding scenes are, in my opinion, the best parts of the book. Don’t ask me why—actually, do. Why? Because the rest of the book is just…blah. Those two scenes are really the only scenes that move the plot (and the mystery) forward.

Do I need to declare my love for Sunny again? Because I will! Sunny is the best. The end.

Fun fact: This is the first book to not include the title of the next book in Snicket’s letter to the editor (in The Slippery Slope, the title was only partially obscured).

Cover Art 2

What I Didn’t Like:

Captain Widdershin’s takes the prize for the Number One Worst Character to Read. All those “Ayes!” and exclamation points are extremely annoying. Thank goodness he’s not in the book for very long.

While this book does introduce a few things that are important for the rest of the series (i.e., the Medusoid Mycelium and hints about the sugar bowl), it also starts the introduction of plot points that are SPOILERED. I’ll talk about this more when we reach the end of the series, but needless to say, reading this book again just made me think “SPOILERED.”

What does Snicket/Handler have against Edgar Guest? Undeserved censure is undeserved.

As I mentioned above, this book was overall BLAH. It had a few good scenes in it, but it was just not very interesting all the way through. Also, Klaus had what seemed to be a completely unnecessary storyline. At least it had a good ending.

A tap-dancing ballerina fairy princess veterinarian (by oh_kaity on LiveJournal)

People/Places/Things to Keep in Mind:

–the Medusoid Mycelium and all things related to it

–the woman briefly mentioned climbing in the Vertical Flame Diversions as the children go to explore the grotto (SPOILER she’s the reason why CW and P leave END SPOILER)

–all the hints Snicket gives about the sugar bowl

–Why do the Baudelaires need to read Chapter 39, Visitable Fungal Ditches?

–the Question Mark on the sonar (A Bad that is Bigger than Olaf?)

–Kit Snicket

Last Picture:

There’s a concierge hat on the beach, referencing The Penultimate Peril.

Overall Review:

The Grim Grotto is one of my least favorite ASOUE novels, due to the introduction of several frustrating plot points, an annoying character, and the overall feeling of “blah” that I got after finishing it. It does have some good scenes, which lends a little excitement to the next(-to-last) book.

Coming Up Next: The Penultimate Peril