The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket: A

From the back cover:
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 lots friend, and tap dancing.

As a dedicated author who has pledged to keep recording the depressing story of the Baudelaires, I 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

This installment was really fun. The orphans actually fall in with some pleasant company, and the whole underwater atmosphere was really neat. I suppose the main plot ultimately did not advance much, though the ending kind of made up for that.

What I specially liked were the bits about moral ambiguities. How V.F.D. isn’t entirely this faultless organization. How it’s hard to acknowledge that someone you love isn’t perfect. And how no person is ever going to be entirely virtuous or entirely villainous. Here’s a great quote:

People aren’t either wicked or noble. They’re like chef’s salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.

The only false note I really noticed is that if someone swallows a spoonful of a certain condiment swallowed in this book, one is going to react a lot more violently than a mere shudder.

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