The Penultimate Peril: Book the Twelfth (A Series of Unfortunate Events)

The Penultimate Peril: Book the Twelfth (A Series of Unfortunate Events)


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780064410151
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/18/2005
Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 22,169
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 1.27(d)
Lexile: NC1150L (what's this?)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Lemony Snicket had an unusual education which may or may not explain his ability to evade capture. He is the author of the 13 volumes in A Series of Unfortunate Events, several picture books including The Dark, and the books collectively titled All The Wrong Questions.

Brett Helquist's celebrated art has graced books from the charming Bedtime for Bear, which he also wrote, to the New York Times–bestselling A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket to the glorious picture book adaptation of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. He lives with his family in Brooklyn, New York.

Michael Kupperman has done many illustrations for such publications as Fortune, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. He frequently writes scripts for DC Comics. This is his first book.


Snicket is something of a nomad. Handler lives in San Francisco, California.

Date of Birth:

February 28, 1970

Place of Birth:

Handler was born in San Francisco in 1970, and says Snicket's family has roots in a land that's now underwater.


Handler is a 1992 graduate of Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

Read an Excerpt

A Series of Unfortunate Events #12: The Penultimate Peril

By Lemony Snicket

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Lemony Snicket
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060296437

Chapter One

Certain people have said that the world is like a calm pond, and that anytime a person does even the smallest thing, it is as if a stone has dropped into the pond, spreading circles of ripples further and further out, until the entire world has been changed by one tiny action. If this is true, then the book you are reading now is the perfect thing to drop into a pond. The ripples will spread across the surface of the pond and the world will change for the better, with one less dreadful story for people to read and one more secret hidden at the bottom of a pond, where most people never think of looking. The miserable tale of the Baudelaire orphans will be safe in the pond's murky depths, and you will be happier not to read the grim story I have written, but instead to gaze at the rippling scum that rises to the top of the world.

The Baudelaires themselves, as they rode in the back of a taxi driven by a woman they scarcely knew, might have been happy to jump into a pond themselves, had they known what sort of story lay ahead of them as the automobile made its way among the twisting streets of the city where the orphans had once lived. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire gazed out of the windows of the car, marveling at how little the city had changed since a fire destroyed their home, took the lives of their parents, and created ripples in the Baudelaires' lives that would probably never become calm. As the taxi turned a corner, Violet saw the market where she and her siblings had shopped for ingredients to make dinner for Count Olaf, the notorious villain who had become their guardian after the fire. Even after all this time, with Olaf trying scheme after scheme to get his hands on the enormous fortune the Baudelaire parents had left behind, the market looked the same as the day Justice Strauss, a kindly neighbor and a judge in the High Court, had first taken them there. Towering over the market was an enormous, shiny building that Klaus recognized as 667 Dark Avenue, where the Baudelaires had spent some time under the care of Jerome and Esme Squalor in an enormous penthouse apartment. It seemed to the middle Baudelaire that the building had not changed one bit since the siblings had first discovered Esme's treacherous and romantic attachment to Count Olaf. And Sunny Baudelaire, who was still small enough that her view out the window was somewhat restricted, heard the rattle of a manhole cover as the taxi drove over it, and remembered the underground passageway she and her siblings had discovered, which led from the basement of 667 Dark Avenue to the ashen remains of their own home. Like the market and the penthouse, the mystery of this passageway had not changed, even though the Baudelaires had discovered a secret organization known as V.F.D. that the children believed had constructed many such passageways. Each mystery the Baudelaires discovered only revealed another mystery, and another, and another, and several more, and another, as if the three siblings were diving deeper and deeper into a pond, and all the while the city lay calm on the surface, unaware of all the unfortunate events in the orphans' lives. Even now, returning to the city that was once their home, the Baudelaire orphans had solved few of the mysteries overshadowing them. They didn't know where they were headed, for instance, and they scarcely knew anything about the woman driving the automobile except her name.

"You must have thousands of questions, Baudelaires," said Kit Snicket, spinning the steering wheel with her white-gloved hands. Violet, who had adroit technical faculties -- a phrase which here means "a knack for inventing mechanical devices" -- admired the automobile's purring machinery as the taxi made a sharp turn through a large metal gate and proceeded down a curvy, narrow street lined with shrubbery. "I wish we had more time to talk, but it's already Tuesday. As it is you scarcely have time to eat your important brunch before getting into your concierge disguises and beginning your observations as flaneurs."

"Concierge?" Violet asked.

"Flaneurs?" Klaus asked.

"Brunch?" Sunny asked.

Kit smiled, and maneuvered the taxi through another sharp turn. Two books of poetry skittered off the passenger seat to the floor of the automobile -- The Walrus and the Carpenter, and Other Poems by Lewis Carroll, and The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot. The Baudelaires had recently received a message in code, and had used the poetry of Mr. Carroll and Mr. Eliot in order to decode the message and meet Kit Snicket on Briny Beach, and now it seemed that perhaps Kit was still talking in riddles. "A great man once said that right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant. Do you understand what that means?"

Violet and Sunny turned to their brother, who was the literary expert in the family. Klaus Baudelaire had read so many books he was practically a walking library, and had recently taken to writing important and interesting facts in a dark blue commonplace book. "I think so," the middle Baudelaire said. "He thinks that good people are more powerful than evil people, even if evil people appear to be winning. Is he a member of V.F.D.?"

"You might say that," Kit said. "Certainly his message applies to our current situation. As you know, our organization split apart some time ago, with much bitterness on both sides."

"The schism," Violet said.

"Yes," Kit agreed with a sigh. "The schism. V.F.D. was once a united group of volunteers, trying to extinguish fires -- both literally and figuratively. But now there are two groups of bitter enemies. Some of us continue to extinguish fires, but others have turned to much less noble schemes...


Excerpted from A Series of Unfortunate Events #12: The Penultimate Peril by Lemony Snicket Copyright © 2005 by Lemony Snicket. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Customer Reviews

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Penultimate Peril 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 331 reviews.
ratt_mice More than 1 year ago
The Baudelaire children are driven off a cliff in a taxi by a volunteer. They go into this hotel on a secret mission. They find out that once again Count Olaf is trying to steal their fortune. The Baudelaire children take jobs as concierges, and are sent to different parts of the hotel. Violet gets sent to the roof. Klaus gets sent to 6th floor. Sunny gets sent to 3rd floor. When they get to their floors, they find out that the people they see on their floor are people are people they didn't want to see again. I highly recommend this book because there is a lot of tension in there. The Baudelaire children are trying to keep their fortune away from Olaf. This book is the best book I have ever read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lemony Snicket is a writing genius! I loved it and would recomend this book to ANYONE who sounds interested!
James Doak More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books in the series! Lots of people said it was terrible, but I loved it. It was a great follow-up to the very last book. So please read it, it rocks! (PS it reveals some good secrets!)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I finnished reading book 13 almost a year ago and i still stay up some nights trying to solve the mysteries of VFD in my mind. I am going to make sure my niece starts reading these in 4th grade like i did. Lemony Snicket is a awesome writer. These books basically raised me. I did a project on Lemony Snicket and found out his real name is Daniel Handler and i have an actual picture of him!!!!!!!†
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thrilling adventure page turner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book in the series. A must read book. Once you start you can't finish!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love lemony snicket's books and the movie
Hamida Newsome More than 1 year ago
By far the best book in the series! I couldnt take my eyes from it. MUST READ!!!!!!!!!!!!! I loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
love these books!
TEST NOOKUSER More than 1 year ago
i love this series!!! you have to read this!!!!! its really good! in fact, great!!!!!
Kelly Gucciardo More than 1 year ago
this series is the best of all time!! so captivating. better then the Harry Potter series. They should make a movie out of all of the books!!!!!!!
Karla-Iruegas More than 1 year ago
This book is written in a very creative and interesting way. It is very difficult to predict what will happen next. Also, the way the scenes are described, it is easy to make a mental picture. Furthermore, characterization occurs in a non-conventional way where the characteristics of young protagonists are attributed to the many hardships they have faced and to the values that they were taught long ago. It requires some analytical ability to fully understand the novel. It keeps the reader engaged and entertained. You do not want to put it down until you finish reading it completely. I totally recommend this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
havent read it yet :/ Pretty sure its good though
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book so much. I think you guys should read it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr. Snicket's series and writing style just knows how to grab a reader's attention and keep it there until the end of time. A must-read series, absolutely.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love these books. I've read 11 and Im on 12 i wish the series would never enb
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whoa, these books are awesome!! Write anothier series, Mr. Snicket! We all luv ur style writing. Owo (=nomnom face) Keep it up! <3 Unfortunate Events series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really good! It revels some good secrets!!! ;) cant wait to read last book!!! One of th bes books yet!!! I am almost through it and i love it!!! I hope u love it!!!!:);) i also suggust reading the books before tha before u rea this because it has a lot about the past 11 books!! LOVE IT!!!!!!
EmScape on LibraryThing 8 months ago
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.
BoundTogetherForGood on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Again, I enjoyed this book, the twelfth in the thirteen book series. I rated it half a star higher than all the rest except the first in the series, as I think it was enjoyable to see the author continuing to pull together all the loose story lines. I actually am very excited to see what happens in the twelfth book. Of course I have some of my own excpectations having read this far. I hope I am right in part and yet I also hope the author continues to surprise!
drebbles on LibraryThing 8 months ago
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.
hjjugovic on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I'm going to review all four of the last books in this series in one review, since I read them all at one go due to the quick plot pacing, and now they've mushed together in my brain. These are wonderful! When I first started, this series, I was underwhelmed, but Snickett grows up his books like he grows up the Baudelaires. Unlike many coming-of-age stories, this one manages to avoid the trite and the untrue. Despite Snickett's fantastical style and plot twists, there is deep reality at the core of these books, which manage to show the world in all its nastiness and how difficult it is to be a "volunteer instead of a villain," and yet it conveys the desperate need for each of us to try. It also teaches voculary, is subtley hilarious if you already have a big one, and imparts a love of science, literature, poetry, and even good cooking. Highly recommended for all the young, and old, people in your life!
aethercowboy on LibraryThing 8 months ago
If you're anything like me, you're terrified of elevators. You never know if somebody may have snipped the line, or replaced the counterweight with a large block of ice, or forgot to renew the certificate. A world of things could go wrong once you enter an elevator.In case of fire, most elevators say, use stairs. Well, elevator's don't actually say this, as I would imagine it would require the elevator to open and closes its doors as if it were talking. Instead, such a sign is placed by the elevator call button, and below that text is a series of bumps, both used to communicate to the blind, and also to pass messages to other members of certain organizations.There was an elevator, once, in the Hotel Denouement. I never used it. But the poor Baudelaire orphans did, as at one time, they were disguised as concierges for this hotel, and had to travel up and down in the elevator to meet the beck and calls of the hotel patrons.The hotel was run by the Denouement brothers, Frank and Ernest, and if I may be frank and earnest, there was na noitidda erugif dedulla ot in the text. The hotel itself was designed to mimic a very large library, and, as such, used the Dewey Decimal system.For example, if a guest were to know about secret MI-6 technology, he would be put in room 007. If he was a famous person with triscadecaphobia, he would go to 013. If he were Jean-Paul Satre, he may be put into room 104. For guests having statistics on Pangea, they'd be put in room 311. A guest being a performer of post-modern music would be put in room 789.Something like that, in which it helps to know the Dewey Decimal system, and at times, it might even save your life, or at least give you a quick laughThings were not all fine and dandy in the hotel, however, as the Baudelaires encountered two thirds of their least favorite tribe. Namely, Esme and Carmelita. This lead them to realize that the hotel itself was filled with both volunteers and villains, and it would be hard to distinguish the two (as some villains would be posing as volunteers, and quite possibly vice versa), unless you paid good enough attention (villains tend not to use coasters, something I've discovered in my own travels as well).The Baudelaires also discovered, at long last, who J.S. was, and J.S. intended fully well to help them escape the injustice of Olaf.But it's a series of unfortunate events, and it's the penultimate book, so I leave the rest to your imagination, or, if your imagination isn't what it used to be, there's always the book, but it doesn't end well.But what does, these days?
whitepine on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The most boring of all of them but the other ones are good.