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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
The perils of the Baudelaire children continue unabated in The Ersatz Elevator, Book Six in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. These delightfully doomed siblings -- whose string of horrible luck began with a house fire that destroyed their belongings and left them orphaned -- continue their efforts to escape the clutches of their determinedly greedy and dastardly relative, Count Olaf.
After working their way through several potential guardians and surviving a boarding school debacle, the Baudelaire orphans -- 14-year-old Violet, 12-year-old Klaus, and baby Sunny -- are adopted by a wealthy couple who take them on primarily because orphans are currently considered "in" in a world that is highly subject to the dictates of fashion. When the children discover that their new guardians live in the penthouse suite at 667 Dark Avenue, they think maybe their luck is finally changing. But then they discover that the 71-bedroom apartment is on either the 48th or 84th floor, and because elevators aren't currently "in," they must climb the stairs to get there.
Then there's their new guardian, Esme Squalor, the city's sixth most important financial adviser and a cold, haughty woman whose primary concern is staying in vogue. Her husband, Jerome, is kindhearted and caring, but his determination to avoid an argument makes him a poor ally for the children. And of course there's yet another visit from the dreaded Count Olaf and his gang of cronies, who kidnapped the Baudelaire's only friends, the two Quagmire triplets, in the last book.
The humor in these tales is sly and dark and the action occasionally violent, but the slapstick silliness helps to keep the events safely nonthreatening. This time out, the fun factor is heightened by the addition of some puzzle-solving elements, as well as a few more hints about the author's life and the fate of the mysterious Beatrice. (Beth Amos)