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A Series Of Unfortunate Events Books In Order

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Publication Order of A Series Of Unfortunate Events Books

The Bad Beginning (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Reptile Room (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Wide Window (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Miserable Mill (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Austere Academy (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Ersatz Elevator (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Vile Village (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Hostile Hospital (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Carnivorous Carnival (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Slippery Slope (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Grim Grotto (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Penultimate Peril (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
The End (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of A Series Of Unfortunate Events Companion Books

Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Blank Book (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon
Behind the Scenes with Count Olaf (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Notorious Notations (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Beatrice Letters (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
Horseradish (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon

About The A Series Of Unfortunate Events Books:

Daniel Handler, writing under the pen name Lemony Snicket, is the New York Times award winning author of the immensely popular young readers’ series, A Series of Unfortunate Events. Since the release of the first title in the series in 1999, more than 60 million copies of the thirteen volume series have been sold.

Harder, born in 1970, lives in San Francisco with wife Lisa Brown, and also dabbles as a screenwriter. Apart from the Unfortunate Events series and the Snicket character, Handler is well-respected for his recent series, All the Wrong Questions, the most recent of which, When Did You See Her Last, was released in mid-October 2013.

The first three of the titles in the series have been made into a movie. Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, described as a black comedy fantasy film, was released in 2004. The movie was generally well received by critics and generated more than $200 million in worldwide sales. Jim Carrey played the lead role of Count Olaf Sonnenfield, while Jude Law narrated. Other notable actors in the films included comedian Billy Connolly, Meryl Streep and the inimitable character actor Timothy Spall. Some reviewers expressed disappointment at the fact that the movie was only loosely related to the plot of the books, while others criticized the movie as being too funny!

Handler’s motivation for the series was provided by the unending diet of depressing daily news that all of us are exposed to; the crime, hardship, unfairness and violence that many of the vulnerable are regularly subjected to.

Why Lemony Snicket?

While researching his first book, The Basic Eight, Handler realized that if he was to receive the sort of “edgy” material that he needed, he would need to operate under a pseudonym. Lemony Snicket’s similarity to Jiminy Cricket was no accident; Snicket is the antithesis of the legendary moralistic wise narrator, a character trait that Handler reveals he despises.

Snicket is the narrator throughout the series, hence the reason the works are published under Snicket’s name rather than Handler’s.

Plot Outline

The Series of Unfortunate Events follows he lives of three siblings, Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire who are orphaned after their parents are killed in an arson attack on their family home. They are sent to live with their distant cousin, Count Olaf Sonnenfield, who immediately begins to mistreat them. Count Olaf plots to claim their inheritance for himself but is initially foiled by the children’s estate executor, Arthur Poe, who removes them from Count Olaf’s care. Count Olaf then begins a reign of terror as he hunts the children down, with numerous characters meeting their demise in bloody circumstances. Arson, murder and various other nefarious acts are common place as Count Olaf and his numerous cronies’ battle to win the children’s inheritance. The children find it difficult to convince adults about the dangers they are faced with, but prove most resourceful and regularly turn the tables on the nefarious Count Olaf.

As the plot develops, the Children learn about the mysterious organization called the V.F.D. that their parents were involved with.

The children do have their happy moments throughout the series; it is not all dark and depressing. As the older two move into the teenage years, love interests are revealed and friendships are developed. The Quagmire families, orphans in a similar position to the Baudelaire’s, are introduced in the fifth volume and their friendship provides renewed hope for the Baudelaire’s in the depths of their despair.

Snicket narrates the entire series and features, along with his mysterious but deceased love interest, Beatrice.

The Timeless Setting?

At first the story seems to be set in the early part of the 20th century, but Handler keeps us guessing as he regularly introduces technology that doesn’t fit the apparent time period. An example is provided in The Last Chance General Store where fiber optic cable is mentioned. Other seemingly out-of-place technologies include computers, credit cards and television.

Recognizable geography is also sparse with but brief references to Boston, Arizona, Peru and Winnipeg in the books.

Lemony Snicket’s Narration

Only the most naïve or impressionable of readers would fail to recognize the absurdity of the story, but throughout, Snicket argues that it is all true. Absurdity follows Snicket everywhere, and no more so than when he recounts his own personal experiences.

Snicket comes across as the ultimate in cynics and he usually conveys a vivid feeling of despondency. But there are lighter moments in his commentary. He does at times display a sense of dry, wry and dark humor. Not the most courageous of individuals, Snicket shows us his aversion to the more gaudy and graphic parts of the story and regularly regales us with his high opinion of the continual fortitude of the Baudelaire children. Handler may be giving his young readers a message here: life is not “all a bed of roses” and we must be resilient when things don’t go our way.

Young Readers or all-age Readers?

Although the series is clearly written for the young reader, the more mature of us can still engage with the tales. There are numerous adult-only references throughout the story, which might puzzle the more receptive of young readers, but be ignored by the “average” young bookworm. An example being the subtle references to Monty Python sprinkled throughout the books.

The “well-read” adult will gain considerable satisfaction from the numerous references to other literary figures or real people, such as Edgar Allan Poe and the von Bulow family.


This series fits into a number of literary genres. Although clearly a children’s fiction work, the works also have clear satiric gothic undertones and the general absurdity of the plot and themes leads one to imagine them as works of absurdist fiction.


Apart from the print book versions, the books are well-adapted to the audiobook form. Most are narrated by Tim Curry, who often plays dark, sinister, cowardly parts in movies, well-befitting the character of Lemony Snicket.

An album of thirteen songs (a recurring number throughout the series) performed by Stephen Merritt of the Magnetic Fields is available. A video game based on the stories was released in 2004 and is available on most common games platforms.

Card and board games have also been released and have proven to be strong sellers.

Book Series In Order » Characters » A Series Of Unfortunate Events

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