The Wide Window
's the strongest installment of A Series of Unfortunate Events
thus far. There's humor:
There are two kinds of fears: rational and irrational--or, in simpler terms, fears that make sense and fears that don't. For instance, the Baudelaire orphans have a fear of Count Olaf, which makes perfect sense, because he is an evil man who wants to destroy them. But if they were afraid of lemon meringue pie, this would be an irrational fear, because lemon meringue pie is delicious and has never hurt a soul.
There's philosophy and moral instruction:
Stealing, of course, is a crime, and a very impolite thing to do. But like most impolite things, it is excusable under certain circumstances. Stealing is not excusable if for instance, you are in a museum and you decide that a certain painting would look better in your house , and you simply grab the painting and take it there. But if you were very, very hungry, and you had no way of obtaining money, it might be excusable to grab the painting, take it to your house, and eat it.
And there's grammar, a murder mystery, food allergies, creepy clown restaurants, leeches, horseradish, an inland hurricane, and androgeny. Quite the eclectic combination!
I said at the beginning of this review that I liked the third installment better than the first two. All three stories have been well written lightning quick reads. All three have been dark, dark, dark. But Handler's/Snicket's ratcheting up of the dark humor in #3 shows his increasing confidence. So what keeps me from giving The Wide Window
four stars instead of three? A major reason is Mr. Poe. How naive and self-deluded can you be, despite the mountains of evidence proving the Baudelaire orphans aren't malicious morons. Believe them, for Pete's sake! Another reason is the repetitive storyline--the Baudelaires have a fortune held in trust, Olaf really wants said fortune and is willing to kill for it, the Baudelaires foil Olaf's attempt to steal their money, Olaf escapes only to try again in the next book. The premise is getting stale. Will Handler/Snicket mix it up in future installments? Will more be learned about Snicket and Beatrice? Whatever's needed to add some suspense, I'm for it.