Review: The Miserable Mill

“At that moment, they knew nothing of the troubles ahead of them, only of the troubles behind them, and the troubles that had escaped out the window.”

Title: The Miserable Mill
Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 4
Author: Lemony Snicket
Genre: Fiction, Children’s, Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Pages: 194
Read: March 2016

the book | the author | the series

Dear Reader,

I hope, for your sake, that you have not chosen to read this book because you are in the mood for a pleasant experience. If this is the case, I advise you to put this book down instantaneously, because of all the books describing the unhappy lives of the Baudelaire orphans, The Miserable Mill might be the unhappiest yet. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are sent to Paltryville to work in a lumber mill, and they find disaster and misfortune lurking behind every log.

The pages of this book, I’m sorry to inform you, contain such unpleasantries as a giant pincher machine, a bad casserole, a man with a cloud of smoke where his head should be, a hypnotist, a terrible accident resulting in injury, and coupons.

I have promised to write down the entire history of these three poor children, but you haven’t, so if you prefer stories that are more heartwarming, please feel free to make another selection.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket


My thoughts:

I certainly agree with Snicket that of the first four books, “the Miserable Mill might be the unhappiest yet.” With their last two guardians dead, Mr. Poe had a very hard time finding a new one for the Baudelaires. And when he found someone, it looks like he found them an employer, instead of a guardian.

Sir, he doesn’t like to be called by his real name, is nowhere near as nice as Uncle Monty or Aunt Josephine. In exchange for being their guardian, Sir makes the children work for him in the Lucky Smells Lumbermill. Although it might not surprise me that the Mill actually smells, the children are surely not lucky to be in there. They are forced to debark and cut trees into logs and are expected to do these along with adults, but they’re only children and Sunny’s just a baby! They sleep on bunk beds in cramped rooms together with the other workers and not even given proper meals – just sticks of gum for lunch and hot casseroles for dinner. Worse, the workers do not receive any compensation aside from discount vouchers that they cannot use because they have no money! (This sounds a lot like abusive factory owners in my country. Labor rights, hello?)

It turned out that Count Olaf was disguised as Shirley, a receptionist in the clinic of an eye doctor near the mill. The clinic, being eye-shaped, was shouting “Olaf! Olaf!” the whole time. After several broken eyeglasses, one-on-one sword fights between children and adults, they were almost captured by Olaf again had it not been for Violet’s research and quick thinking and Klaus’s on-the-spot invention.

Once again the Baudelaires figured out a way to stop Olaf’s plans. And Mr. Poe, upon learning that Sir was not capable of protecting the children from Olaf, insisted on taking the children away from him. That means they’re now free from Olaf and the cruel mill. I just feel bad for all the workers that are still there, working hard day and night, not receiving proper wages and benefits. 😦 The bad thing is, Olaf is on the run again and is likely to turn up again in the near future.

I enjoyed the first three books but this one runs a very similar plot so it’s quite predictable. The children is sent to a new home, they spend a couple of days with their guardian, Count Olaf shows up again with his ridiculous disguise and one of this assistants, nobody, I mean NOBODY but the children recognizes Olaf in his disguise, Olaf attempts to steal the Baudelaire fortune, the children stops him just in time, Olaf eventually runs away without paying for his evil deeds. Then the Baudelaires is sent to a new home, etc. Good thing no one died this time but I hope for a different flow of events in the succeeding books.

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