The Vile Village (#7) by Lemony Snicket

Published: April 24th 2003
Goodreads badgePublisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 259
Format: Book
Genre: Junior Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Dear Reader,
You have undoubtedly picked up this book by mistake, so please put it down. Nobody in their right mind would read this particular book about the lives of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire on purpose, because each dismal moment of their stay in the village of V.F.D. has been faithfully and dreadfully recorded in these pages. I can think of no single reason why anyone would want to open a book containing such unpleasant matters as migrating crows, an angry mob, a newspaper headline, the arrest of innocent people, the Deluxe Cell, and some very strange hats. It is my solemn and sacred occupation to research each detail of the Baudelaire children’s lives and write them all down, but you may prefer to do some other solemn and sacred thing, such as reading another book instead.
With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

Well now we seem to have gotten into a proper swing of things. Yes Snicket keeps up the same narration and writing style in some aspects, but the story gets a lot better. It has widened to focus beyond the Baudelaire’s personally and more characters and environments are introduced are part of the wider mystery. After being moved on from the previous guardians, and under the illusion it takes a village to raise a child, the three siblings are being looked after by a strange village with bizarre characters and a very strange list of laws. Snicket warns us that this books contains many unpleasant matters such as migrating crows, an angry mob, a newspaper headline, the arrest of innocent people, the Deluxe Cell, and some very strange hats. This is pretty much the case. Absurdities follow these children and the village is no exception. The difference here it the fact there are rescue missions and escape plots, hints and clues, as well as more details about the circumstances and life of the man whose job it was to record this unfortunate tale.

The Vile Village is the seventh book in the series and while very odd it wasn’t bad. The villagers are idiotic but in a good way. They are humourously daft and so intent of obeying the rules they end up worse for it. Their ignorance and neglect of the children this time isn’t just for plot. Previously the adults seems annoyingly vague and oblivious to the kids to the point it was a little unbelievable in the scheme of things, however this time you actually believe these adults are so wrapped up in their village that they don’t care for the kids.

Now that Snicket has introduced the intruge factor and the mysterious ‘VFD’, the story turns to focus on discovering this. Through the narrative we follow the siblings as they try and discover more about what ‘VFD’ means, as well the reappearance of the orphan triplets Duncan and Isadora (who where introduced in The Austere Academy). With more inventing and thinking and biting things are somewhat concluded, if not exposed at best. The slight issue with these books (among the other issues) is that it is very hard to discuss the next book without ruining the story of the previous one. Certainly Snicket likes to do that himself, but now that there are actual clues and suspicious circumstances occurring we are finally given much desired structure and cliffhangers that carry on to the next in the series.

What has become really enjoyable is the fact that the story has become more traditional in the sense of structure, and like mystery stories we are able to read along looking for our own clues and trying to decipher meaning alongside the Baudelaire siblings. Snicket seems to have moved on from defining every word and phrase when he write, and he certainly isn’t giving away as much of the oncoming plot as he did in the earlier books which is a real joy. Now that there seems to be a nice continual flow and constructive narrative, the remaining books are looking to be shaping up nicely.

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