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From Barnes & NobleThe world's unluckiest trio of children have their most perilous adventure yet in The Miserable Mill, the fourth book in Lemony Snicket's delightful tales of woe, A Series of Unfortunate Events. Orphans Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire have yet to find a guardian they can live with and, after the disasters that occurred during their last living arrangement, they are now headed for a lumber mill in the town of Paltryville (most of the names used in these tales are as revealing as they are entertaining), located just beyond the gloomy, black Finite Forest.
Another misadventure is virtually guaranteed when the children arrive at the mill and discover an eye-shaped building (the eye being Count Olaf's signature symbol) located right next door. Supposedly the building is an eye clinic, but the children have their doubts. Life with their newest caretaker doesn't look very promising either, as the children are forced to work in the mill and bunk in a dormitory with the other employees, all of whom are paid in coupons. Then Klaus breaks his glasses and has to visit the eye clinic. He doesn't return for hours -- and then when he does, he acts very strangely.
Violet begins to suspect that Klaus has been hypnotized and her investigation of the eye clinic reveals Count Olaf in his latest disguise. It's one the children can see through easily, though they can't seem to convince any of the adults around them that the eye clinic receptionist named Shirley is actually Count Olaf. Only by using their singular strengths -- Violet's knack for inventing, Klaus's book smarts, and Sunny's T-Rex-like bite -- can they escape their latest horrible fate.
While many of the events that occur on these pages are indeed bleak, miserable, and unfortunate, the indomitable spirits of the Baudelaire children and Lemony Snicket's gleeful telling of their tale makes reading them irresistible. As a side benefit, there's also a marvelous education in linguistics hidden amidst the mishaps. (Beth Amos)