The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1) by Lemony Snicket ~ Book Review

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1)

Lemony Snicket &
Brett Helquist (Illustrator)


From Goodreads:

Dear Reader,

I’m sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.

In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.

It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

My thoughts on this book:

Up until now, the three Baudelaire children have lived a fairly lavish life. Until a raging fire burns through their home with their parents inside. Their deaths are suspicious and nobody really knows how the fire started in the first place. Now they have nothing left and Mr. Poe must find a relative that’s willing to take on the responsibility of caring for them.

“Mr. Poe opened his mouth to say something, but erupted into a brief fit of coughing. “I have made arrangements,” he said finally, “for you to be raised by a distant relative of yours who lives on the other side of town. His name is Count Olaf.” 

When the children are delivered to their new caretaker (Count Olaf), their hope is that their life will take a turn for the better. However, it seems that Count Olaf’s only interest is gaining their family fortune and the Baudelaire children must find a way to protect themselves from his nasty schemes.


There were comical parts in the book and surely the whole story isn’t just bad events happening to the children. I felt that there were positive aspects too. I personally admired how the children stood together and had each other’s back. They’re intelligent kids–effective problem solvers–and make the best out of the predicament they’re in. Also, there are many important messages about family, trust, embracing what you have and making the best of it. For me, the biggest takeaway was that justice and life in general don’t always work in our favor as the adults who are supposed to be the protectors make one mistake after another in this book. It’s enough to drive one mad and reminded me of how crazy things can get when deranged people have power and control over others, especially children.


I enjoyed the writing and thought it was really easy to follow. We loved the illustrations, but found ourselves wanting more because there aren’t that many and mainly just at the beginning of each chapter. There are frequent new vocabulary words introduced for children to learn and I appreciated the addition of them with thorough explanations.

“It is very useful, when one is young, to learn the difference between “literally” and “figuratively.” If something happens literally, it actually happens; if something happens figuratively, it feels like it is happening. 

If you are literally jumping for joy, for instance, it means you are leaping in the air because you are very happy. If you are figuratively jumping for joy, it means you are so happy that you could jump for joy, but are saving your energy for other matters.” 

The ending is left wide-open for the second book, The Reptile Room. I’m really looking forward to starting the next book and reading this whole series. My plan is to read them all with my kids before we start the Netflix series.


Find this book on Amazon and Goodreads:

  • Age Range: 8 – 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Paperback: 162 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic (2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439206472
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439206471

Thanks for reading my review. Have you read this series? Feel free to share your thoughts. 🙂

40 thoughts on “The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1) by Lemony Snicket ~ Book Review

  1. Noriko

    Awww, I love this book, too! I read up until the third book and then got stuck lol
    have you read all the books in the series? I definitely want to pick it up once again!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve seen a lot of people say that same thing, that they stop after the third! Ironically, the movie with Jim Carrey covers the first three books. I’m planning to read all of them with the kids before we start the series on Netflix. I hope we’ll enjoy the entire series, and you too if you decide to finish them. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

    1. ❤ I hope they enjoy them when they read them. I really want my kids to try to finish the series before we get on Netflix, but I guess we’ll see. My middle son ended up starting the show, but didn't get very far yet. He's content with reading the books first and I'm happy about that. I have to know how things are going to turn out for these kids! Thanks, Nina. 😀

      Liked by 3 people

  2. When my sons were younger, we read the first book, but none of us cared to continue the series. My youngest son and I watched the first season last summer on Netflix and loved it – think Neil Patrick Harris did an outstanding job as Count Olaf. Haven’t started the second season yet.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. David R. Dowdy

    Thrilling review! It seems a tad saccharine, but kids love it apparently. I’ll try to watch an episode because Jim Carrey has to be perfect for it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! Kids do seem to enjoy these. Jim Carrey did the movie which I thought was great. It covers the first 3 books. I’m sure the series on Netflix is great too! Can’t wait. If you try it, let me know your thoughts! 🙂


  4. I haven’t read this series hey but I have watched the first season of Netflix show and honestly it was so fun. I liked how dark and humorous it is at the same time and oh I loved the part where they explained literally and figuratively. Great review 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I, sadly, had to give up on the Lemony Snicket books… I got about 3-4 books in and thought “wow! They weren’t kidding, these kids CANNOT CATCH A BREAK!!” I just couldn’t do it anymore, cut them some slack! Ha ha! Good luck, and I can’t wait to read what you think as you continue on your journey. 😕🥂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s so odd that neither of my boys never read any of these books, so I’ve never read them either! And we’ve not seen the movie (or is there more than 1?), and we’ve not seen the Netflix series either. I’m wondering if Kayley would like these because they sound good although I’m wondering if she would worry with her anxiety about bad things happening to kids all the time or if it would help her see that those things are just life. She was so obsessed with the Roald Dahl books for a while and is now reading the Ramona books, but she wants to read the 1st Harry Potter book (I bought her the 3 illustrated ones), but I’m almost hesitant about that since she’s not even 8 yet…well, in 9 days, lol but I don’t want to freak her out. You just never know.. Great review!! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My oldest boy wasn’t really into them either and they came out around the time he was born. We’re enjoying them though! There’s the one movie with Jim Carrey and then the Netflix series as well. The movie is pretty good and covers the first three books I think. I think Kayley might like it. We are reading them together and it’s working out pretty well. 😉

      I hope she has a wonderful b-day! Take care and we need to catch up! ❤ Thanks. 😀


      1. My oldest isn’t a reader like his dad…I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw him with a book unless it was about cars or engineering stuff. My other one loves to read, but he’s more into suspense and always has been, lol. Not at all like mom! They said they watched the movie with dad..Haha! I was apparently at work. What do I know! Hubby said he liked it. I think we’ll finish Ramona..I love her reading them to me since I loved them when I was her age, maybe read the 1st HP, and then see if she wants to read these!

        We definitely do!! Connor’s graduation was today, so everyone is out of school finally! It went so well! I’ve got his party and her bday party (and thank you, I hope she does too! She’s having a pool party bday) this week, then we leave on Sunday for 2 weeks at the beach…thank goodness! But I’ll be relaxing and hopefully care free by then! No more party planning, graduation carrying on, lol! I hope you’re well!! 😘❤

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s weird how that works because my oldest doesn’t read much anymore and he was always an avid reader. My middle daughter is reading the Ramona books now! I think she’s reading Runaway Ralph right now. They’re fun books! Nice that you get to enjoy them all over again too! ❤

          Congrats on your son graduating and I hope you have a very relaxing vacation! That sounds like it’ll be nice. 😁 All is okay here and chat soon. 💖💙💖


        2. Mine was never a reader so I guess it’s ok that he’s not now. When I try to push him to read, he just gets annoyed. That’s cool! Ramona is the best, and it’s definitely nice to reread them.

          Thanks! I wasn’t sure we’d see the day after his shenanigans in April. I hope so.. they always get more excited than I do, lol. I love going just to sit on the beach and read all day but since it’s a house, I still have to clean, cook, do laundry, etc while we’re there, so that’s not a vacation from that, lol. I’m going to go in strike and make them help out though this year! Glad all is ok!! Yes,chat soon! I need to send you my cell number so you can text me..❤💜🧡


  7. Excellent review! I’ve been eyeing this book. I think I’ll give it a go, thanks to this awesome rec. I haven’t wanted to watch the movie until I made up my mind on the read LOL… Movies always RUIN books, so now I’m glad to have held off! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I had to buy so many copies of this series for the school library. So many kids wanted to read it and the books were read so often I actually had to replace some of them because they fell apart. I should check this out on Netflix. I also lije Neil Patrick Harris. He is so versatile.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: My Favourite Reviews of the Week | 9th June – BookBum

  10. I absolutely loved this review. Especially the last quote. I think books be great when they enrich readers vocabulary while being fun. Have ye tried the Incorrigible Children series? I cannot remember if ye saw me post. But I loved it. Link below if ye like. No pressure.
    x The Captain


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