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Book Name: The Penultimate Peril (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 12)

Author: Lemony Snicket

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Overall Rating: (4.1/5) View all reviews (total 50 reviews)

Lemony Snicket returns with the last book before the last book of his bestselling A Series of Unfortunate Events. Scream and run away before the secrets of the series are revealed! Very little is known about Lemony Snicket and A Series of Unfortunate Events. What we do know is contained in the following brief list:


I hate it, I hate it, i HATE it!

by A. Barry "THE reviewer"

I don't hate this book,its one of the best in the series, but the ending, I just HATE it!How are all the series's questions (about a thousand) gonna be answered when its just the Baudelaires and Count Olaf in a boat!?!?!?!err.....must...read....last book......I must know what the heck is in that sugar bowl!!!!!

Best next to last book ever!!!

by Alice L. Hughes

You've just gotta read it. They do save the best for last. Well, next to last. I read it all night as soon as I bought it because I could't put it down. This book contains most of the answers the Baudelaire orphans have been searching for. It will absolutely give you shivers when Count Olaf shares his fiendish plan. Will Violet, Klause, and Sunny escape from Count Olaf's clutches? Read on and find out. And brace yourself. The twist at the end of the book was more than I could take. A Great read. Another book I enjoyed recently was the scifi adventure "GAAK" by Darryl Hughes. Four "Goonies" like misfit kids defend their small town and the world from invasion by kooky aliens from outer space. It's like Spielberg's best.

The World Will Soon Be Quiet Here...

by Andrew "Radaar"

In the 12th, and second-to-last (or penultimate), book in the Series of Unfortunate Events stories, the three Baudelaire children are put to the test in ways unlike they have yet had to experience. Familiar faces, some of which they are happy to see, many of which they shudder to think about, show up. And it all ends in an unthinkable manner.After meeting up with Kit Snicket, sister of Jaques and Lemony, at the end of the 11th book, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are brought to the Hotel Denouement, the last safe meeting place of V.F.D. Kit explains that they must help her and her friends finally bring Count Olaf, Esme Squalor, and their associates to justice. Numerous V.F.D. volunteers will be arriving at the Hotel within two days to aid the children. However, Olaf and many of his followers will also be present in order to finally retrieve the important sugar bowl (Vessel For Disaccharides) once and for all. Kit tells the children that she will be meeting up with the newly reunited Quagmire triplets who are using the self-sustaining hot air mobile home to arrive at the hotel, and in a few days will return for the Baudelaires. Meanwhile, they must remain at the hotel and gather information about both sides.The children encounter most of their old guardians, including Sir, Charles, Vice Principal Nero, and Hal, as well as Geraldine Julienne, the irresponsible reporter of the Daily Punctilio that has caused a lot of legal trouble for the children. In the process of their observations, they learn a few details that make the mysteries of their lineage and the history of V.F.D. even more interesting and confusing, especially a revelation about their parents and Count Olaf.This book definitely felt very different from most others. Violet didn't do much inventing and Sunny didn't use her cooking or biting skills very often. Klaus' skills at research were highly valued in this book, especially since the entire hotel was built to model the Dewey Decimal System. Also, it has a very pronounced "calm before the storm" kind of feel to it. Lemony Snicket/Daniel Handler is definitely preparing us for the final volume, which will hopefully answer the numerous lingering questions.Most of the other themes of the series are still very prevalent. As usual, the Baudelaires seem to be the only competent people in a sea of bizarre adults; in fact, I am beginning to draw parallels to this story and Alice in Wonderland (author Lewis Carroll is often alluded to in these stories). The dark humor is as good as ever (I loved the reference to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia), and the constant warnings still please.The ending was very good, and I can't wait to read the last story of the three Baudelaire children.


by Betty L. Dravis "BETTY DRAVIS, author/reviewer"

This is a great series with a great title. Since "poor little orphans" is a cliche in books, it's fantastic to see how this amazing author turned it into something uniquely his own.Great, exciting book with wonderful twists and turns. My heart often leaps into my throat when the kids are in danger, and I sigh with relief when their ingenuity gets them out of that particular danger. Lemony Snicket certainly knows how to pace the action to get his fans excited. He has a knack for keeping us guessing too.I've grown to love these kids. Just like my own kids, I can't get enough of these little guys.Wonderful job, Lemony! As long as you keep writing, we will keep reading.


by B. Le "Avid Reader"

The penultimate peril, as many of you have read, is an action packed comic book. Like the rest of the story, someone almost dies or is dead, and old characters are back.Not ruining the plot, I will give you two clues, hotel and fire.This is an action packed "book" that should only be taken for entertainment value, although snicket increased his vocabulary and the use of English techniques.Denouement is pronounced de-no-ma.

The Baudelaire Orphans Meditate On Good vs Evil

by Brett Benner

I think the biggest surprise of this penultimate book was the moral debate that's posed by the end of it. Who is good and who is evil becomes the conundrum that's processed through the wacky world of the Baudelaire orphans. Some small questions are definitely answered, but unfortunately, we'll all have to wait till the final book to see how it all shakes out. Can't say it was my favorite thus far, but I can say (and I never thought I'd say it in regards to these books) it absolutely made me think.

Can't stop reading it

by Brian & Randy "Two Brothers"

Never intended to keep reading A Series of Unfortunate Events. Here I am at book 12 looking forward to the last one. Get it if you haven't already.

Next to the Last, Close to the Best

by Carla C. Thomas "CC Thomas"

This book was the thickest yet in the series, with information flying so fast and furious that it felt like a crescendo--a race to get it all in before the final act.Th Baudelaire trio has met up with Kit Snickett, shadily related to Lemony, and she has taken them to safety, to a hotel where many other volunteers for good will soon arrive and assures them that many of their questions will be answered. 'Safe' is a word that doesn't usually apply to the Baudelaires. Soon, the hotel is crowded and they don't know who to trust, regardless of the murky clues and ridiculous passwords.This one is much better than the last six in the series, probably because it was less formulaic. It was also much darker and more desperate than the others, as if the Baudelaires know their story is almost over. Some of the story is the same--ridiculous characters in unbelievable situations. Why does it always seem to work? Although, after twelve of these, I am definitely ready for this to be over and jump into something new by this author. I do so enjoy Snickett's writing style, his strange wit and sense of humor. I also always love the formats of the hard cover editions. The front cover art and deckled edges are so classically SUE. This phenomenon will be missed. This series has been so unique and will not be triumphed, a rare compliment from a bibliophile.

The Penultimate Peril

by Charles Seipel

This was an amazing book full of mystery, many layers and even humour! This book is a great beginning to the end and a true must read!

Over-long, but occasionally charming

by Debra Hamel

The twelfth--and penultimate--book in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events finds the three Baudelaire orphans arrived at the Hotel Denouement, an enormous building whose rooms are organized according to the Dewey Decimal System. (German poets are gathered in room 831 of the hotel, for example, just as German poetry is labeled 831 in a library.) Disguised as concierges at the hotel, the orphans encounter many of the people, both noble and evil, whose paths they have crossed in previous books--Jerome Squalor and Justice Strauss, Kevin the ambidextrous former circus freak, the ineffectual Mr. Poe, and of course the shiny-eyed and tattooed über-villain Count Olaf.Not very much happens in this installment of the Baudelaires' unhappy tale. The children try as usual to piece together information about their plight while the allegedly noble people around them prove to be at best unhelpful. Regular readers of the series will not be surprised that hope of a happier future is wrested cruelly from the orphans' grasp in the course of the story, so that the book ends in woe. What is new is that Mr. Snicket has injected moral ambiguity into his text. This time around the children, compelled by circumstances in their capacity as faux concierges to perform wicked deeds, find themselves wondering whether they are indeed any more noble than the evil Olaf and his cronies. Their self-doubt, of course, is foolish, and one hopes they will come to accept as much in the final book of the series.Snicket's writing in this penultimate book remains charming for its verbal play and for the author's occasional injection of his own persona into the narrative. ("One of the advantages of being taciturn is that it is rare for your words to get you into trouble. A taciturn writer, for instance, might produce only one short poem every ten years, which is unlikely to annoy anyone, whereas someone who writes twelve or thirteen books in a relatively short time is likely to find themselves hiding under the coffee table of a notorious villain, holding his breath, hoping nobody at the cocktail party will notice the trembling backgammon set, and wondering, as the ink-stain spreads across the carpeting, if certain literary exercises have been entirely worthwhile.") In this installment, too, Snicket plays with mirror writing, with a few passages written backwards. The book loses points, however, for being perhaps thirty pages too long. Several passages go on far longer than they should, continuing long after the joke has become tiresome. Thus, for example, items submitted as evidence at a trial by various of the series' bit players are itemized ad nauseam:"'I submit these newspaper articles!' announced the voice of Geraldine Julienne.'I submit these employment records!' announced Sir."And the list of submissions, each similarly phrased, drags on for another three pages. Some pruning of this and similar passages would have greatly improved the book. That said, things liven up in the later chapters when Olaf and the Baudelaires engage in some unexpected dialogue.I await the final chapter of the Baudelaires' saga with considerable interest--hoping that the elusive Lemony will manage to tie up the story's loose ends in some way that does not disappoint, hoping that VFD--the secret organization of noble volunteers who are the good guys in the story--will turn out to have more going for it than a bunch of foolishly named devices, wondering what ever can be in the sugar bowl for which volunteers and villains alike have been searching now for several books. Mostly I am grateful that the author elected to name the penultimate book in his series The Penultimate Peril, so that English-speaking students the world over, as well as their teachers, may embrace that most handy and underused of words, "penultimate", and eschew the ugly, periphrastic expressions--"second to the last," "next to last"--that are so often, and so regrettably, used in its stead.Reviewed by Debra Hamel, author of Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece

I wanted it to be better than this

by doc peterson

I like ASoUE - I really do; but I was disappointed by the penultimate book in the series. While there are high points (specifically the return of many of the previous characters from the series - villains as well as friends of the Baudelaires), Book the Twelfth didn't advance the plot line of the continuing saga at all. What a bummer.The word play, the Various Funny Definitions of VFD and the tragi-comic episodes of the Baudelaires that you would expect are all here, but compared to many of the other books in the series, the magic isn't. And that's too bad.

Not the Best of Them

by Dottie Randazzo "Reader of Everything"

Well, it seems that Mr. Snicket is now scraping the bottom of the creative barrel as these books come to an end. I found that there was a lot of repetition in the book (I am not talking about repeating what happened in the other books). It wasn't as exciting a read as the others have been and maybe that is because Mr. Snicket is saving the best for last. At least let's hope so. I do love his story telling style.

Evil Entry

by drebbles

In this, the next to last book in Lemony Snicket's "Series of Unfortunate Events" books, Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire are taken by Kit Snicket to the Hotel Denouement where they are to work as concierges and spy on the guests to find out who is a volunteer for the mysterious VFD and who is a villain. While there, they run into many friends and enemies they have encountered in the previous 11 books in the series. They are all there in anticipation of a meeting of all VFD volunteers which is to take place in the next few days. But, as always, things do not go smoothly for the Baudelaire orphans and they end up accidentally murdering someone, purposely setting the hotel on fire, and in the crutches of the evil Count Olaf.Lemony Snicket fills this book with his trademark sense of humor, there are always 13 chapters, plenty of alliterative names, explanations of meanings of words, warnings that the reader shouldn't finish the book, and absurd situations (the roof top tanning scene is hilarious). The young Baudelaires are still far more intelligent than the adults are who never seem to recognize the children in their various disguises. Snicket gives a sly nod to critics who hated Olaf's laugh in "The Grim Grotto". While it's inevitable that the children grow up during the course of the books, the fact that Sunny speaks coherent sentences is a bit disappointing and takes away the fun of trying to decipher what she is saying.I appreciate the humor of having 13 books in the series, but I can't help wonder if that was ultimately too ambitious for Snicket. "The Penultimate Peril" feels like filler at times, with two many questions left unanswered. Why is the sugar bowl so important? Where are the Quagmire triplets? What do the initials "VFD" stand for? Are the Baudelaire's truly orphans or is one of their parents still alive? Where the Baudelaire parents involved in wrongdoing? Can Snicket answer all these questions in the last book?Finally, parents should be aware that there is a rather violent death toward the end of the book that is accidentally caused by the Baudelaire children. While this may open up an interesting discussion of what makes a person good or evil and can a person be both, the death may frighten young children.

best books

by elizabeth m carson

this must be one of the best ones yet it is so sad the series is al most over but i am very exsited to see what becomes of olaf and the kids next. i can not wait this is the best series yet i hope mr.snicket dose more.

The world is quiet here

by E. R. Bird "Ramseelbird"

I recently downloaded a Fresh Air interview with author Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) from several years ago. In it, I learned that prior to writing "A Series of Unfortunate Events", Mr. Handler did not read a single solitary children's book. He didn't immerse himself in the dry narration of E. Nesbit or take in the mock-gothic nature of Joan Aiken or even submerge himself in the wry humor of Roald Dahl. Mr. Handler did none of this and yet he still managed to write what can best be described as the most original children's series of the new century. Some books in this series work better than others ("The Ersatz Elevator", for example is better by far than the slightly more forgettable, "Slippery Slope") but not a single one could be described as weak or poorly written. In this, the penultimate book in the series, we learn a heckuva lot more about VFD, the schism, the orphans' former guardians, and the nature of nobility and villainy. There isn't as much action in, "The Penultimate Peril". You won't find insidious henchmen trying to saw children in half or swordfights or kids rappelling down elevator shafts. What you will find is a whole book that lauds the beauty of libraries, a harpooning, letters written backwards, an enormous fire, bad Indian food, and what can best be called the final cliffhanger.When we last saw our heroes, the Baudelaire orphans had climbed into a taxi with a woman they knew only to be Kit Snicket. Hoping that now, at last, they could get an answer all their questions, the Baudelaires are disappointed to find that Kit is just as mysterious and impossible to pin-down as every other adult they've met. She takes them to the Hotel Denouement where they are immediately set up as concierges. Their job? Well, a big meeting is going to take place on Thursday and both villains and volunteers are gathering at Denouement. The Baudelaires are charged to find out what they can about a guest known only as J.S. Along the way they must befriend the manager Frank, avoid his evil twin Ernest, and attend to the guests' needs. As the three do so they find that every incompetent and ill-equipped guardian they ever had is present (as well as the far rarer noble ones). Everything is steaming to a head and the Baudelaires must figure out the secrets behind the hotel, avoid villainy themselves, and create an adequate signal to other members of VFD to indicate whether or not it is safe for the meeting to take place in what is known as the "last safe place".What we have here is a book that makes it bloody clear to children everywhere that in this world there is no ultimately "safe place". The choices we make in our lives can never be followed to their ultimate conclusions because it's impossible to predict the minutia of chance. The best we can hope for is to follow Kit Snicket's advice and "observe everyone you see, and make such judgements yourselves". The Baudelaires do a couple things in this book that seem sketchy or confusing to them. By the end they know they've tried to do their best but villainy has seemingly still won out (though certainly not completely). And to top it all off that most notorious of villains, Count Olaf, has shown a brief (very brief) moment of near-humanity. Because of this, I've little fear that the Baudelaires will escape the book's final predicament with their souls as well as their bodies intact. If someone doesn't write a book about the morality of "A Series of Unfortunate Events" shortly after the publication of the 13th book, I can tell you right here and now that heads are gonna roll!As a librarian, I was much taken with the fact that the Hotel Denouement is organized like a library. Guests are organized into rooms according to the Dewey Decimal System. This isn't necessarily a new idea. The Library Hotel at 299 Madison Avenue in New York City already did it years ago. And while guests are not placed into rooms according to their occupations, each room is a different Dewey Decimal Number. Still, "The Penultimate Peril" does have a heroic librarian in its midst and (though I had not realized this before) in almost every book in the series the Baudelaires use a library to help them out of their predicaments. So from the librarians of the world, Mr. Handler, I salute you. Quietly.When, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" was written, it could be read as a parable of Gilded Age populism (the Scarecrow = the wise, but naive western farmers, the Tin Woodman = the dehumanized, Eastern factory workers, etc.). So couldn't "A Series of Unfortunate Events" be read as a parable for our own contemporary politics? Think about it. The "good" adults in this book constantly disappoint the people who trust them because they aren't unified, allowing the villains to constantly seize control simply because bad guys are much stronger in the courage-of-their-convictions department. Note the jab at Scalia on page 268 and you've a fairly convincing interpretation of modern politics. Just a thought.Faithful readers of Snicket know that on the last page of every book there's a note to Snicket's editor that offers some kind of clue as to the next book. Unlike every other clue offered before, this one is clear, sweet, and succinct. Readers will pore over it in vain for clues. Until the final chapter in this series we'll just have to wait and hope for the best. And that's a dangerous to thing to hope for where "A Series of Unfortunate Events" is concerned.

Are the Baudelaires becoming villains, too?

by Eric Arismendi

In the twelfth unfortunate volume of the award-winning book series, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, the three unlucky Baudelaire orphans are helping V.F.D. put Count Olaf and his assistances in jail once and far all! Kit Snicket has asked Violet, Klaus, and Sunny to dress up/disguise themselves as concierges (hotel staff) in order to become flaneurs (spies) for mysterious volunteer organization. Their risk mission is to observe all of the guests staying at Hotel Denouement in order to figure out who are the volunteers, who are the villains, and who the mysterious J,S. is. Is J.S. a man or woman? Is J.S. on V.F.D.'s side or on Count Olaf's side? These are questions the Baudelaire siblings must answer before Thursday's trial in order to put Olaf behind bars once and far all. On top of that, the children have to be able to distinguish the two hotel mangers, who are identical brothers, from each other: the nice Frank and the evil Ernest. Plus, V.F.D. crows are to deliver the sugar bowl to the last safe place. Can the Baudelaires manage every complicated task given to them? The conclusion of this book is that you would imagine - Chapter 13 is simply unbelievable (and what happens to Count Olaf and Esme Squalor is equally shocking)! I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes A Series of Unfortunate Events and enjoys reading a good mystery book, or simply a book discussing very serious matters. This is probably the best book in the entire series (perhaps even better thanThe End (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 13)) because the readers really sees how three "innocent" kids pass out of childhood and begin to turn into what they most fear: villains. In previous books, the orphans had to lie to an almost-blind man and set a carnival on fire in order to escape dangerous situations. Now, the unfortunate Baudelaires even kill one of the hotel managers with a harpoon gun; they realize that they aren`t as noble as they thought they were. The theme of evil and wickedness in the world in a portrayed perfectly inLord of the Flies : (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century) (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century), but Daniel Handler handles the concept very well. It's quite sad to read what ambition and corruption can lead to, but neverless, this a marvelous book worth every penny. The Sebald Code and other codes fromLemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiographyare actually used in this book, and many of the Baudelaire's previous guardians return for big important V.F.D. gathering! A truly wonderful book, but maybe a bit too strong for little children.

An unfortunate reunion sets the scene for the extraordinary ending

by Erika Sorocco

When we first met the three Baudelaire Orphans, they were splashing in tide pools along Briny Beach. That is, before their lives took a turn for the worst. Now, as we meet up with them once again in this twelfth volume, we again see them upon Briny Beach. However, this time things seem as if they are looking up, for they are in the hands of good - Kit Snicket. With the pregnant Kit in tow, the three Baudelaire's are brought to the Denouement Hotel. A place kept in order by the Dewey Decimal System. The Hotel Denouement is the last safe place, and within a few days, each and every volunteer will meet up with one another, where they will celebrate the claiming of the sugar bowl over the hands of evil. However, with Sunny, Klaus, and Violet disguised as concierges, they soon learn - by using their "flaneur" skills - that many of the people lurking around the hallways of the Hotel Denouement are anything but good. In fact, it is while wrapped up in their clever disguises that the three orphans run into various terrible people from their past - from the unescapable Count Olaf, to the treacherous Vice Principal Nero; and the oft-times brainless Justice Strauss, to the carnival freaks known as Kevin, Colette, and Hugo. With a bit more detective work, and a little help from identical triplets Dewey, Frank, and Ernest, the orphans soon realize that while the upcoming gathering of volunteers is supposed to showcase how good triumphs over evil; the hotel is overrun by unkind masterminds who plan on wrecking the celebration. Now it is up to Violet, Klaus, and Sunny to make a very important decision...call off the volunteer gathering, or think up a way to triumph over the evil that has surrounded them ever since the day Mr. Poe informed them of their parents deaths.After reading the eleven books prior to THE PENULTIMATE PERIL, I had no idea that Snicket would bring back surviving characters from previous installments, and throw them into one very sordid, crazy affair at the Hotel Denouement. However, seeing these vicious faces rear their heads once again was quite a pleasant surprise, and indicates that the thirteenth book will certainly take the Baudelaire's out with a bang. As always, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny brave through their newest assignment, hoping for the best. From waiting hand and foot upon uncaring ex-caregivers, and taking abuse from demanding debutante-esque characters, the orphans manage to keep their heads above water. While a bit more tragic than the previous installments, with deaths and tears to boot, THE PENULTIMATE PERIL still stands out in my mind as possibly one of the best tales about the Baudelaire's yet. And, as with each tale before it, THE PENULTIMATE PERIL illustrates an unfortunate reunion which sets the scene for the extraordinary ending.Erika Sorocco

Is this almost over?

by E. S. Charpentier

More mysteries are solved and the most unfortunate of all the events so far occurs. The nobility of the Beaudelaires is called into question. I know this story won't have a happy ending...but it's very well told.


by Fabrizio

Lemony Snicket writes the Baudelaire's penultimate peril in an amazing way. I feel sorry that the Baudelaires start to do villainous things. Lemony Snicket writes another amazing, but sad book.

Complete fluff

by Hermione Danger "the Law of Impermanence"

Tons of filler in this book.Snicket brings back most of the characters for a courtroom showdown which means he takes every opportunity to use the following format:"It's a bird!""It's a plane!""It's a hook!""It's a book!""It's a rail!""It's a tail!"and on and on.And also to spend whole paragraphs hashing over what everyone is doing, e.g.:X was stumbling around and ran into Y who was hanging onto Z and they bumped into A who was still wearing the necklace she stole from B who was in the next room with C trying to blah blah blah...Snicket can get more than an entire page worth of that stuff.No good descriptions or plot developments, just list after list after list.He does try to inject a subtext commenting on moral ambiguity but all that gets buried under the Snicket cliches of melodramatic crying kids (stop already!), wimpy adults who are too poorly written to be witty satires, idiotic evil villains and plot holes.The kids are clever one moment and complete dolts the next.Yup, by this point, I detest the characters and Snicket and this wretched story that never goes anywhere. The lit and linguistic winks don't even begin to compensate for the crappily crafted story.I find it insulting how Snicket manipulates his readers. It seems like the kids tearing up and crying is directly proportional to the increasing crappiness of the stories. Since we're less sympathetic towards the kids because they a.) fail to learn from previous mistakes, b.) fail to seize opportunities, c.) repeatedly fail to use the brains they are reputed to have (for all the inventing skills, reading and life experience, you'd think they'd have a lick of common sense), Snicket makes them turn on the waterworks.Disgusting.I haven't had to skip this many paragraphs and pages since The Notebook.

Let's just wrap it up

by Jennifer Lichtenfeld

Just when it seems the Baudelaire orphans are in the hands of good noble people that will help them they discover that evil still lurks behind every shadow and door. They are whisked away by a women who identifies herself as Kit Snicket. She tells the siblings that she is working with Quigley Quagmire and the other volunteers to triumph over Count Olaf and his evil henchmen once and for all. Kit brings the children to the Hotel Denouement where they are to observe the hotel guests in disguise and determine whether or not the hotel is a safe place for the volunteers to come together for a meeting on Thursday of that week. The children are told that they are to evaluate the people with which they come into contact and decide if each person is noble and on the side of good or evil.The Baudelaires arrive and immediately realize that the hotel is full of people from their past - some good and some bad. Esme Squalor is there with the obnoxious Carmelita Spats so Count Olaf cannot be far away. But Hal and Charles from previous books are there to support the children. Soon Olaf appears and makes his evil plan known to all. They are going to ambush the volunteers when they arrive on Thursday and unleash a poisonous fungus that will kill all of the noble people. The children must figure out how they can stop Olaf without putting anyone in harms way and without being taken into custody for the bad things that people believe that they have done.It is time for this series to come to an end. The writing and vocabulary continues to be brilliant and clever, but the plot is no longer entertaining. While the series is somewhat designed to be formulaic, by book 12 that formula fails to keep things interesting. As stand alone books they are each wonderful for their originality but the series would likely have finished on a stronger note if it had been shorter.

Nearing The End

by JMack

The Penultimate Peril presents the most rapid departure from the early formats of the series by Lemony Snicket. In this book, Baudelaires do some fairly unthinkable acts. But in the broad scope, this novel makes a lot of sense.It amazes me how many characters in the book have missing and previously unknown relatives. Yet this addition to the series again finds the Baudelaires aligned with a character's previously unknown sibling, serving an important role. Arriving at the Hotel Denouement, the orphans find numerous familiar faces as well as foes. The peculiar arrangement of the establishment creates an interesting twist to the story. Of course, everybody awaits the arrival of the sugarbowl. Would those waiting be disappointed by the revelation? There is a 13th book.Nearling the end of the series, I am anxious to complete "The End" soon. While the series might wear out its welcome if it continues much longer, the angles of the story have managed to stay fresh.

The end is near

by Jonathan Appleseed

I take issue with some reviews that say the book left us where we began - that we know nothing more now than we did at the beginning. Snicket's clever play on words is of particular significance, for he is telling us exactly what he's doing, in the event that thick headed readers don't pick up on it.First, the book is entitled "The Penultimate Peril". Penultimate means (I won't try to imitate Snicket's style as I have in other reviews because I'm not sure I'm that clever anymore) "last but one in a series of things". So he's telling us, although most of know this already, that he's only writing one more book.Second, all of the events occur in the Hotel Denouement. Denouement means "the final part of a play, film, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved." In this book, if you pay attention to the characters, how they are interacting, what they are doing, who they're doing it to, much is explained. Who were their real enemies during the last eleven books? Were people like "Sir" who made their lives miserable at the mill (well, maybe that was clever), an ally or an adversary? Again, if you read very carefully, with a discerning eye, you see that perhaps not is all that it seems - and that is something that Snicket does better than anyone writing for this age range. He does a tremendous job of *making us think*, so how could this book possibly not advance anything? It's my personal belief that writers who make their readers think, and do so in a fashion that's not simple nonsense (i.e., setting up a mystery or mysterious events and then explaining them away as a dream) are the best kind of writers. Snicket is one of those, a master of his craft. In that sense, this book is *brilliant*.Almost - almost - everything is revealed. And now we move on to the climax. Book the Thirteenth.


by Jonathan Haugen

This book was good but I was hoping they would figure out which triplet was which between Ernest and frank

Maybe my favorite book of the series, and one of the most morally complex

by Josh Mauthe

The Penultimate Peril may be my favorite entry in Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events, and that's saying something, when the series has so many wonderful entries. But there's something deeply satisfying about the way The Penultimate Peril starts to deliver on the themes the series has been building up to, especially as it comes to blurring the lines between good and evil into non-existence. So many books for children clearly divide the world into good people and bad people, but The Penultimate Peril finds the Baudelaires taking truly horrible actions - some by accident, some intentionally so - while simultaneously forcing us to realize that painting Count Olaf as a villain isn't as cut and dried as we might like it to be. It's rich material for any book, much less a children's series, but to have it done as well and as elegantly as it's done here would almost be enough by itself to make me love this book. But The Penultimate Peril has so much else going for it, from absurd courtroom scenes that take the idea of blind justice too literally to moments of quiet reflection that are wonderfully, perfectly honest in the best ways possible. And even though it's the last book of the series, The Penultimate Peril gives us the last bow of many beloved characters, clearing the stage for the final act to come. There's only one book to go in the series, and since I've read it before and I know what to expect (and what not to expect), re-reading the series has been a chance to savor all the details - not just the literary in-jokes and the sly comments that work better for a 34-year-old dad than his 7-year-old son (how many children's books contain jokes about Antonin Scalia?), but the character development, the wonderful way that author Daniel Handler uses his books to explore grief, the pains of adolescence, and a huge spectrum morally complex questions. And The Penultimate Peril does it all as well as the series ever did, and did it in such a way that's both satisfying on its own terms and sets the stage for the finale to come. No small feat.

Boo, Hiss!

by kaduzy

If you've come this far along in the series hoping to get some answers at long last to all the burning questions raised by these books and their supplementary materials, and you think you'll be getting at least SOME of these answers in Book the Twelfth, then you've come to the wrong place. All you get here is pages and pages of more pointless hints, more pointless conversations, more pointless literary references, more pointless space-filling definitions & descriptions and MANY more raised questions. The charm of the series is definitely worn thin -- anorexic, actually -- at this point. Usually these books have me chuckling for pages but this time the only laugh I got was when Handler took advantage of Sunny's system of baby-talk to throw in a left-wing joke about Scalia and the Supreme Court. It'll fly completely over the heads of the kiddie readers and might annoy some of the more right-wing older readers, but apparently it's impossible to escape politics these days, even in children's literature.Handler has at this point dug himself into a deep, deep hole and there's NO POSSIBLE WAY he can satisfy everyone and answer every question in just one more book -- which doesn't make me at all eager to read it! He is losing people (or maybe just me) with the continued twists and turns this late in the series, and this book was really nothing more than an excuse to reintroduce characters from all the other books and set up more questions that likely won't be answered in the next book either. It's like turning on your favorite show to watch the series finale and getting a season-recap instead. In other words, it's almost a total waste of time.Handler likes using literary references in his books but this book might as well be one gigantic reference to a play written by a man you may have heard of: William Shakespeare. It's truly much ado about absolutely NOTHING.


by Kaitlan Crockett "Pam"

This book was purchased, along with Books 11 and 13 in this series, for my nine-year-old granddaughter. She hasn't read it yet, but has read other books in this series and enjoys them very much.the books was orderd two weeks prior to Christmas as a Christmas present and arrived in time to give her at Christmas and in very good condition.

Just one book away...

by Katie Cooper "Cookie Monster"

What I really didn't understand about the previous book, "The Grim Grotto", was the last sentence. "...and the Baudelaire orphans climbed aboard, turning the tables of their lives and breaking their unfortunate cycle for the very first time." After reading this sentence I expected "The Penultimate Peril" to be slightly brighter.I was wrong. The twelfth book is darker than any other in the series. The Baudelaires ponder on good vs. evil and think about their own villanious deeds. Villains that had appeared in previous books are present in this book. Kindly adults and volunteers appear, too, but again they prove themselves useless.There are several fascinating points of this book. The setting, for example, is excellent. Because the book takes place in a hotel, all the previous characters can be reintroduced. There are changes and growth for all characters, especially our three heroes. Even Count Olaf shows some hints of his hidden (very, very deeply) virtues. The ending is something that will keep you thinking for a long time. There are interesting parts about the Baudelaires' parents, an underground library, the schism, unemployment by mutual agreemnt, and the sugar bowl.However, there were some disappointing parts...there are no adventures or page-turning events. Instead the pages are filled with Violet, Klaus, and Sunny's work as concierges, which I'm afraid are not very interesting, although they contain some new information. The new characters, such as Kit and the Denouements, are not fully developed like the people in other books. Up till Book 11, every new character had his/her own aspect (Fiona the mycologist, Quigly the cartographer, etc), but Kit, Frank, Ernest, and even Dewey seem very flat. Also, Dewey appears for a very short time, after babbling senselessly about waiting for tomorrow.Another disappointing part is the book's humor. The other books were filled with humor. Even though the overall story was dark, I could still laugh over some parts. But this book has absolutely no humor at all, apart from some boring repetitions that are typical of Snicket books. And although some books can be interesting even without humor, this book is, until Chapter 9 or so, tedious.Finally, I missed the Quagmires and the Widdershins. They are some of the very few good people in this series. The other good people that appeared were powerless, such as the two J.S.s or Charles, Hal, and the Denouements.Just one book away from the ending...I expect a lot of the thirteenth book. Hope it isn't also filled with "previous characters" and tantalizing bits about the past!


by K. Vaske

Dear reader, Bystander, Civilian, Pedestrian, Alien, and or sea creature I, not related in any way to Mr. Snicket, will write my review for A Series of Unfortunate Events on this one page, for you see I am quite lazy and writing 12 different reviews for the same series would only put you dear readers in harms way of being offended by my grammmar, pronunciation, and spelling(although I highly doubt anybody will even bother to read this, escpecially after my boring introduction). So as to make things simple I shall say all I have to say right here.A Series of Unfortunate Events is a series about, well a group of Unfortunate Children called the Baudilaures. Unfortunate in this case means, for every person that wins the lottery or finds a penny on the street you can bet that the Baudilaures will have just been tricked by some fellow who tried to steal their inheritence or had their house burn to the ground. This series has gone up to 12 books and will end with Book 13 cleverly entitled: Ahem, The End.It also has a sick, villain named Count Olaf who follows the children around and tries to get their inheritence.(STALKER!) Ahem, anyway these children face horrifictatioously danger at every turn, excuse my spelling as it will get worse and worse as I am banking on the fact that no one will read this and this small memento of time and devotion shall be utterly wasted. But I shall continue to write nontheless for I feel it is my sworn duty to advise you to read this book series and hopefully I shall not get sued by any legal associate of Mr. Snicket for copying his fine prose.Overall these books are cleverly written with some wit and humor and suspense. They of course shall not rank up with the likes of The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, War of the Worlds, Lord of the Flies, and the Dictionary(an engrossing read) BUT they are great fun to read for any age.Excuse me I'm getting a call........What? Thats terrible! Who would copy Mr. Snicket's fine prose! No I've never even been to the Amazon.....

Great Series

by L. Burroughs

My daughter has read all of the books in this series. She's a teen who loves to read and really enjoyed these.


by Lemony Snicket

Having originally owned about half of the series, I purchased the remainder some years later, and reread the entirety. This was not one of the ones which I originally owned, but I found it thoroughly enjoyable to read. It brings about some more questions and is full of action from cover to cover.

Perplexing Perils Pursue Plucky Baudelaire Children

by Lonnie E. Holder "The Review's the Thing"

This book is the twelfth book in A Series of Unfortunate Events. This book follows "The Grim Grotto" and precedes "The End."We began in story where "The Grim Grotto" left off. The Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Klaus and Sunny, on her way out of babyhood, have jumped into a taxi driven by none other than Kit Snicket, who is taking the children to an unknown destination. The unknown destination turns out to be the Hotel Denouement.The children's visit to the Hotel Denouement turns out to be a reunion of sorts. The children move through the hotel disguised as concierges and as they move through the hotel they meet many people that they have previously encountered in the first eleven books in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Many of the people they meet are good people and volunteers. They also meet many evil people. The children also meet some people who may be evil, or they may be good. Trying to decide whether certain individuals are good or bad could cause the children a Very Fine Distress.We learn that Hotel Denouement is the last safe place on earth, and volunteers are arriving from all over. Once the volunteers have arrived, certain foul criminals will be tried for their crimes! Or will they? There are lots and lots of plots and the criminals are one step ahead of the good guys, as can happen in the world. As can also happen in the real world, the Baudelaire orphans are involved in the murder of a man by accident. The situation gets hotter for everyone in the hotel as the Baudelaire orphans go on trial, everyone is blinded by their stupidity, a Venomous Fungal Disease is an impending doom, and we wonder how this series can possibly end with the next book.This book is one of the best in the series. This book does a fine job of preparing for the final book in the series. Lemony Snicket answers some questions, but many more questions remain. I await the final book with anxiety and excitement. I wonder how Snicket can end this series in a way that will satisfy his faithful readers.Enjoy!

The next to last peril wasn't as exciting as the next next to last peril was (book 11).

by Loran

I liked the book. I thought that it was good, but it had way too many rambles from Lemony Snicket. It felt like I had been cheated out of a good book. Book 11 was good and had a lot of exciting and new information, but all book 12 does is give you an overview of the people the Baudelaires have met through their series or unfortunate events. The book does add some interesting information to the series and also has a well written ending. I'm hoping thatbook 13 is better than the next to last peril (penultimate peril, book 12).thank you for your time,Loran

The Penultimate Peril Review

by Mid-Praire Teen

The Penultimate Peril is one of the best books written by Lemony Snicket in the Series of Unfortunate Events. It is the second to last book in the Series of Unfortunate Events. The book starts up right where the last book left off. This book is the darkest of all, but it is still very funny and entertaining.The book is very well written with great vocabulary. You see a lot of familiar faces that make you think of all the past incidents that the Baudelaires have faced. Three new characters are introduced, Frank, Ernest, and Dewey who are triplets. The Baudelaires can't tell which one is which. The Baudelaires have to decide who is evil and good, but that is their hardest task of all.Although it is very long, 353 pages, you stay in the same place for the whole book. Lemony Snicket rambled on and on throughout the book that made me want to just skip to the next page and get on with the book.The book kept me at the edge of my seat, which made me want to keep on reading. I can't wait to read the last book, and overall I would rate this book a 7 out of 10.

The 12th Unfortunate Event

by Nancy R. Katz "NancyK18"

I eagerly waited for the 12th book, The Penultimate Peril, and next to last book in this series of unfortunate events. And once again it was a twisting, turning title filled with the adventures of the Baudelaire orphans and a cast of good people and treacherous villains. I'm afraid to say, though, that for the first time I found this book showed the wear and tear of a series since it lacked some of the cleverness I found in other titles. And I say that after I tell my students that these books only got better and better. Still I did enjoy this book and now can't wait for the 13th and FINAL book to learn about the fate of the children and to tie up all of the clues and plot lines.

Come On, Already!

by Pat Shand "Pat Shand"

Sometimes, when we love a series of books, we pray that it will never end. That being said, I do love A Series of Unfortunate Events, but it's time for it to end. The last few books just weren't as good as the first ones, and it's time for the big climax.The beginning of this book, as the beginning of the last few books before this, dragged. A lot. It dragged for about four or five chapters, in fact. However, while books 9-11 only slightly made up for their respective drags, this Penultimate Peril completely makes up for it. That's not saying that I want five more books in the series, it's saying that this book was darn good--a lot better than some of it's predecessors. I might have to say that the climax may be the most exciting of all twelve books so far. Just the right amount of mysteries are revealed for you to know there is just one more volume.And about the next book. Yes, I'm curious what will happen. And yes, I'm glad that the story will be bowing out before it gets too old. Bad beginning, great climax.7/10


by :P

I love this series it is a really good book. I can't believe that there is only one book left in the series.

Ok but ...

by Prabal "All paths lead to God..."

After the first 11 books, that were laced with black comedy and inopportune situations handled and aligned in a way to make sense, the 12th books somehow leaves the reader gasping for more and ends with a flat note. I can, however, find cognizance with the moral of the story that sometimes people you think you are close to, fail you with their "nobleness" or lack of guts! That you have to find strength in yourself to fight your own wars and that a family has an important part to play when you're struggling through your live. I think the gist of the story is that that the three children find succor in each other - almost a live force driven by love, that protects them and eventually helps to extricate them from impossible situations!

Fortunately Still Unfortunate

by RCM "beckahi"

I was eagerly anticipating reading the next-to-last installment of the Baudelaire orphan's saga as they search for justice and try to defeat Count Olaf. After finishing "The Penultimate Peril" I am anxious for the thirteenth in the series so that the mystery (possibly) will finally be solved."The Penultimate Peril" finds the Baudelaire orphans ensconced at the Hotel Denouement, disguised as concierges in an effort to study the guests to see if they are noble volunteers or ignoble villains. Violet, Klaus and Sunny have little but appearances, which can always be deceiving, to go on and happen to find themselves possibly working for the villains against their knowledge. The three Baudelaires must try to uncover various mysteries regarding the VFD before a meeting of volunteers scheduled for that Thursday takes place. Meantime, the orphans encounter many past guardians and past enemies who played a role in earlier books. Justice Struass from "The Bad Beginning" appears and is intent on bringing Count Olaf to justice. If only justice were truly blind...As usual, "The Penultimate Peril" is an outstanding companion to the books that make up The Series of Unfortunate Events. The trademark humor of Lemony Snicket is in place, bur resonates at a much deeper level this time. Readers know that the Baudelaire saga must come to an end with the next book, but are left to wonder if the mysteries that haunt Violet, Klaus and Sunny, and that tie them to Count Olaf, will ever be solved. That would be too fortunate.

The End Is Near

by Robozippy

The Penultimate Peril is one of the best in ASoUE. It's the next to last book in the series, and everything is starting to come together.When we last left Violet, Klaus, and Sunny that had met up with Kit Snicket on Briny Beach, and that's exactly where out story picks up. She takes them to a hotel, where in just a few days, there will be a gathering of volunteers at the last safe place. However, we all know that nothing ends in sunshine & happiness for our favorite unfortunate orphans.The book is very well paced, and a bit darker than some of the others in the series, but just as silly as well. We see lots of familiar faces, and will have you wanting to reread the entire series over just to see if you missed the slighest bit of a clue. We also meet some new characters, and discover some remarkable secrets. We also run into some new questions, and ponder the true meaning of noble. Right & wrong are not always black & white, especially for the Baudelaires. The Penultimate Peril is a very enjoyable read, and is a must buy for fans of ASoUE.And make sure you have a mirror when you read.

second to the last peril

by Shawn Cole "destiny jumper"

Peniltimate peril which if you dont know peniltimate means second to the last and well i hope you know what peril mean any whom if you dont know then its like some thing bad or a tradgedy now this book was very interesting ilove how snicket writes but im afraid that as you may read many others have written just the same as im about to write it leaves you needing the last book to answer the questions but as i have not read the last book yet. i am actually waiting for it in the mail around 4:00 today it will be in my grasp.This particular book the twelveth book of the thirten is about how our heroic but misfortunate boldilairs meet Kit Snicket she meets them at the beach and drives them uncontrolably to there destination which i hope you know is the hotel that every one who reads the Grim Grotto is dieing to find out if the children get to but to put you readers who love this seris as much as i do which i hope you dont because then that would mean you love the sorrow that follows the children and i must amit lemony snicket is a "awsome" writer and love his sob storys and am hopeing will write another seris of books. But here iam getting off subject my apologies well to put your mind at ease they find it because Kit takes them to it and tells them they are going to be in costem so no one will reconise them and that when they are done changeing throw a rock in the pond to signal frank unless ernest took his twin brothers place ernest on the bad side and frank is the good guy im sorry to say you have tomake the dission your self untill you meet dewey which is a very fasinating deadman. and that is all i may tell you with out getting off subject and telling you the whole story but i will tell you the boldilairs end up willingly in olafs cluches.Sincerly sorryD.J.C


by Ski bunny

One of my most favorite books of the series so far! I think this because of some of the mysteries that were finally revealed and the excitement!

Wake me when the 13th book comes out....

by S. McKinney

This was a really aggravating book. I sensed that there were attempts made to start tying all the loose threads up into a big black velvet bow, but it wasn't happening. The story wasn't advanced one single step further than it was in the last book. So I can't quite figure the raison d'etre for this book. I'm glad we borrowed it from the public library instead of spending our penultimate penny on our own copy.Definitely the most unimpressive book of the series.

Love it

by Sparkie

Great gift for those into this series....lit is a Xmas gift and she will love it. I know I do.

Is The Penultimate book of the Series really as great as the previous eleven?

by Sylvester

The Penultimate Peril is the next-to-last-book of the series. Out of all of the previous eleven books, I think that this one is the best out of the entire series, because everything is unpredictable. First it starts out where the last book left off, they meet a women named Kit Snicket and she takes them to Hotel Denouement, to become concierges to spy on their enemies.In this book the Baulaires will meet some of some people from their dreadful past, but will they help the Baulaires or are they on Count Olaf's side? But they all know one thing for sure, if Count Olaf gets his hands on the Sugar Bowl something terrible will befall them all. The only person that may be able to help them out of this dreadful situation is a mysterious man named Frank, who Kit Snicket instructed them to find. He has a twin brother, named Earnest. The Baulaires must try to find out which one of the brothers is Frank and which one of the brothers is Earnest. For Frank will help them and Earnest will try to stop them at almost any cost. With enemies lurking around every corner in Hotel Denouement how will they ever be successful in finding the sugar bowl in time before Thursday? People who enjoyed the Penultimate Peril will also enjoy the previous eleven books.

Different setting - much the same

by Tessa Rivers

As much as I love the Baudelaires, I don't believe reading the 7th-12th books consecutively was such a good idea. The action may be different in the Penultimate Peril, but the formula is the same, which has become somewhat disappointing, having recently read 5 other books in the series within 30 days.The adults are still frustratingly ill adept for adulthood, the Baudelaires are still frustratingly going through the motions of trying to figure out anything about the VFD, their parents, and the Quagmire triplets, and Count Olaf and his henchpeople are still frustratingly horrendous, if predictable this far along in the series.

The worst in the series

by Tom

For the longest time I thought that the Miserable Mill was the worst in the series. Then I read this one. I love all the other series of unfortunate events books but I just strongly dislike this one. There's really nothing I like about it and I really don't know why. I just hate it?

Peril is set for the Baudelaire's future

by Toni Masters

Violet, Sunny and Klaus Baudelair continue from the 'Grim Grotto' when they meet Kit Snicket and drive away in her car, escaping from the traumatic Mr. Poe. Violet, Sunny and Klaus soon discover that they are needed in a special project in V.F.D, Hotel Denounment where they must dress up as concierges to discover the imposter pretending to be Jacques Snicket(a character Lemony killed off in a previous book) This book is full of twists and turns and was a marvelous addition to the series, Lemony's standard is getting better- gradually and I can't wait to read his last book. You will enjoy this penultimate book in the series.

Good Book, Shocking Ending

by Tyler Quagmire

Throughout the new book, I was absolutely stuck in a trance. I was wondering how on earth Handler managed to make such a perfect book. There was so much suspense, and so much mystery.Are any of our important questions answered? No, except who J.S. is. We also learn what happened to the Quagmires. We still have more questions than ever now, which makes me a little anxious about the last book, for surely not all these questions will be answered in one book.I thought the book had sooo much suspense, and then something happens towards the end of the book that is just so awesome. It is something that made us think for a few minutes that the Baudelaires are going to be free of their charges, but then the sadness floods the plotline, and we are shot in an unusual direction.The reason I am giving this book four stars rather than five is because of the ending. I can't say too much about the book, but I didn't like... well, there are certain elements of the series that are quite amusing. They might not be ultimately important to the plotline, but they add fun flavor to the pages, and in this book our dear Daniel Handler takes away two major sources of flavor that I thought tasted quite delicious...Was I disappointed with the book? Yes and no, but whether you're like me, or whether you loved the book to pieces, one thing's for sure, and that's that you'll be begging for the last book to come out as soon as possible!!

The best book in the series

by Vedran Lelas

The book is so good I want to read it over and over again. I love how it takes place at a hotel because I love hotels.

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