Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Miserable Mill

The Miserable Mill
© 2000 Lemony Snicket
194 pages

"You can't stop me! Count Olaf always comes back for an encore!" - Count Olaf, deleted scenes from the movie.

When we last left the Baudelaire children, they had lost their parents, a lovable mentor, and a slightly batty aunt to the incorrigibly evil Count Olaf, who is determined to get his hands on the Baudelaire fortune. Despite their mishaps, the bureaucrat in charge of them insists on shoving them off on people without doing proper background checks. In The Miserable Mill's case, the children are adopted by a man known only as "Sir", who owns a lumber mill and keeps his employees working in conditions that would have shamed a medieval lord. The children are forced into work -- stripping bark from trees is one task and given only five minutes and a stick of gum for lunch and coupons at the end of the day. Klaus is hypnotized by an optometrist that the kids are sure is in cahoots with Count Olaf -- not that their new guardian, Mr. Poe, or anyone else would believe them. As the plot develops, it becomes clear that Count Olaf has thought of a new way to get possession of the kids -- although why he persists is unclear, given that Mr. Poe made it clear in The Bad Beginning that Olaf isn't eligible to receive any of the money. This book as something of a twist in that Violet and Klaus are forced to switch their respective roles as inventor and researcher when circumstances merit.

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