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Book Review: 'Who Could That Be at This Hour?" by Lemony Snicket

BooksKristina PinoComment

Lemony Snicket's latest book, which was released last year, explores the young life of the spy behind the case of the Baudelaires in the Series of Unfortunate Events. If you read those books and ever wondered what Snicket's life had been like up until the point he ends up following the orphans, All The Wrong Questions is the series for you.

If you aren't familiar with Snicket and his adventures though, ATWQ is a series which explores the young life of a person called Lemony Snicket, who is becoming a spy for a certain organization (V.F.D.). In the first book he is only 12 years old, and he needs to become someone's apprentice in order to further his career. He chooses the most unaccomplished of all of them thinking he'd have an easy ride, but he is instead taken on a full adventure regarding a non-stolen item that needs to be returned to its owner and a nefarious plot beyond his understanding.

Snicket is taken to a town called Stain'd-by-the-Sea, which was once actually sea-side but is no longer. He and his trainer/chaperone are asked to retrieve an item that was supposedly stolen, and while she is mucking about and drawing all the wrong conclusions, Snicket is learning more about the mystery, which is much more complicated than it first appeared to be. After a few wrong turns, Snicket is without the lost item and with more questions than he had answers for.

For adults, ATWQ1 is a quick read. You could do it in a few short sittings, and the text is broken up with lovely illustrations by a cartoonist called Seth. The very first thing that would draw anybody in though is the truly fantastic book design and cover art overall. The jacket draws attention to the book without being loud, and if you remove it you get an elegant-looking hardback featuring an imprint of a falling man on the front and the simplest of information on the spine. The inside cover is wrapped in octopuses, which is relevant to the story. Every little detail was carefully thought through and handled with great love and care.

As always with the work of Lemony Snicket (a made-up character and pen name of Daniel Handler, by the way, to give the man some credit), there is something to be said about writing style. His books are all-ages friendly and, while making the story easy to understand for a kiddo, he also drops in all kinds of literary nuggets and references for adults to relish in. His books are just rife with references to the likes of Edgar Allen Poe, Jane Austen, and other literary greats, pop media and culture, and anything else he could jam in there. He also frequently breaks the fourth wall and speaks to the reader in a way that you feel like he's sitting in a cushy chair in front of you and telling you the story himself.

Though technically you could surmise that ATWQ may act as a sort of prequel to the Series of Unfortunate Events, it's clear that Lemony's story here is unique and not entirely related to that. There are a few things that definitely bleed through to the other story, and an obvious character has already been introduced at the end of this book who had a significant role in one of the SoUE titles, but I don't think 

Who Could That Be at This Hour  is meant to be a direct precursor to the other series.

If you've never read Snicket before, you could jump in here. It is always more than a pleasure to read his work, and for adults it should act as a refreshing breather in between heavier books in your backlog. For kiddos it's also a friendly read, not going too dark just yet and not too wordy or difficult to understand, either. I also recommend this book to all lovers of spy stories and mysteries.

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Also available at Books-A-Million:

Who Could That Be At This Hour ? - Lemony Snicket - Hardcover

Who Could That Be At This Hour ? - Lemony Snicket - Hardcover

Buy Who Could That Be At This Hour ? by Lemony Snicket in Hardcover for the low price of 10.87. Find this product in Juvenile Fiction > Mysteries, Espionage, & Detective Stories.