The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket: A

From the back cover:
Dear Reader,

If you are looking for a story about cheerful youngsters spending a jolly time at boarding school, look elsewhere. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are intelligent and resourceful children, and you might expect that they would do very well at school. Don’t. For the Baudelaires, school turns out to be another miserable episode in their unlucky lives.

Truth be told, within the chapters that make up this dreadful story, the children will face snapping crabs, strict punishments, dripping fungus, comprehensive exams, violin recitals, S.O.R.E., and the metric system.

It is my solemn duty to stay up all night researching and writing the history of these three hapless youngsters, but you may be more comfortable getting a good night’s sleep. In that case, you should probably choose some other book.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

There are similarities between the plot of this book and the last, and I thoroughly despised the head of the school, Vice Principal Nero, but I’d still rate this as the best of the series so far.

It was good to see the Baudelaires try a different tactic when they recognized Olaf, as it reduced the number of scenes in which the adult authority figure du jour is being excruciatingly obtuse. And I quite liked the Quagmire triplets, as well. I hope we see more of them.

What I most liked, however, was the ending. All of the books have a cliffhangery ending, mostly concerning what unfortunate events will next befall the Baudelaires, but this one is special. It really feels like this might be the start of an arc of some kind. Lemony Snicket’s personal snippets are getting more interesting, as well, and might actually figure in to the overall plot before we’re done.

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