Lemon Seeds

I count myself as a big fan of the novels Daniel Handler has written under his real name. The Basic Eight is one of my all-time favorite books, and I really enjoyed Adverbs and Why We Broke Up, as well. But even though I really like Daniel Handler, it was his pseudonym I first fell in love with. I devoured the entire A Series of Unfortunate Events series at what was probably an unhealthy clip, and felt sad at the end, not only for the end of the story, but because there was no more Lemony Snicket left to enjoy.

Until now! A new series is in the offing, and I grabbed Who Could That Be at This Hour? from the library as fast as I could. While Lemony Snicket was the reluctant narrator for the story of the Baudelaire orphans in A Series of Unfortunate Events, we only got brief glimpses into his own life. This first book of the new All the Wrong Questions series delves into Lemony's youth, and sets him on the path towards his work with the VFD that provides the connective tissue that threads through all of the books of this universe.

Who Could That Be at This Hour? throws the thirteen-year-old Lemony Snicket under the tutelage of the VFD's worst mentor, S. Theodora Markson. They are sent to a nearly-abandoned town named Stain'd-by-the-Sea, where they are tasked with stealing a seemingly-worthless statue. Needless to say, the statue isn't worthless at all, though its value is not monetary. Plenty of people are desperate to get their hands on it, from a girl named Ellington Feint who hopes to use it to ransom her father, to the mysterious Hangfire, a shifty villain who can impersonate voices impeccably.

The town is also populated by other odd denizens: An inept pair of bickering police detectives. An intrepid aspiring reporter. Two young boys who run a taxi service in exchange for (life) tips. All of this is written in the same extremely clever style that Handler brought to the previous series, but adds a welcome layer of mystery to the whole enterprise, as well. The story works as an individual entity, but also sets up plenty of questions to be explored in the next book. Cap all that off with the stellar illustrations done by Seth, and you've got one of the most enjoyable reading experiences I've had so far this year. I can't wait for the next adventure.

Who Could That Be at This Hour?: A-


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