The Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning
The Bad Beginning is the first of 13 volumes in the appropriately named collection, A Series of Unfortunate Events.
The comically dark tale centres around three children, Violet, Klaus and baby Sunny, whose parents are killed in a fire which also destroys their home - a tragic event which sets the tone for the rest of the book. Sent to live with Count Olaf, a distant relative, their unsettled lives take a turn for the worse. Count Olaf treats the children like slaves, ordering them to cook, clean, fetch and carry for him and forcing them to share a single, filthy bedroom, with only one bed.
When Violet turns 18, she is set to inherit the family fortune and it soon becomes clear that Count Olaf is determined to get his hands on the inheritance, by whatever dastardly means necessary. It is up to the three plucky children to outwit the Count, but as all other adults seem to have been taken in by the evil man, this proves to be an extremely difficult task.
Attractively presented, this gothic series is sure to appeal to readers with a taste for the macabre. Those anticipating a pleasant, happy read should avoid this series, for as Lemony Snicket states in the opening sentence, 'If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book.'