A Series of Unfortunate Events 4: The Miserable Mill

7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10

Some clever writing

Sometimes gets caught up in its own writing, repetitive nature of the series

Book Info

Book Title:  A Series of Unfortunate Events 4:  The Miserable Mill

Publisher:  HarperCollins

Writer:  Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)

Artist:  Brett Helquist

Release Date:  April 15, 2000


Chinese Cover

The Baudelaire children Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are being moved again after another disastrous foster home placement following the death of their parents.  Travelling to Paltryville, the children find themselves under the not-so-watchful eye of “Sir” who runs the Lucky Smells Lumbermill where they are forced to work.  When Klaus glasses break, he is forced to go to Dr. Georgina Orwell who seems to hypnotize Klaus.  What is Orwell’s plan for the Baudelaire children and could she be working with the dreaded Count Olaf?

Written by Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) and illustrated by Brett Helquist, A Series of Unfortunate Events 4:  The Miserable Mill continues the popular story which began 1999.  The short and quick novels for children were widely praised and this novel continues from the end of the previous entry A Series of Unfortunate Events 3:  The Wide Window also released in 2000.

I find A Series of Unfortunate Events a slippery slope (which ironically the title of the tenth book).  Sometimes I love what the books do with themselves, but other times I think it gets a bit too clever and the repetitive nature of the story gets boring.  A Series of Unfortunate Events 4:  The Miserable Mill follows this trend.


Visiting Dr. Orwell’s Office

As with all the other books, the adults are insanely stupid (intentionally).  By the second book it was pretty obvious how the books would unfold, and with that knowledge it can become tedious.  You know Count Olaf is going to show up and you know that the kids are going to outsmart them despite the idiot adults.

This volume has a not very active guardian in “Sir” who the children really don’t connect to like the guardians of the previous volume.  With both Sir and the Dr. Georgina Orwell, there are lots of allusions to George Orwell’s 1984.  This is a clever gateway for children since 1984 is frequently assigned as a later reading assignment and kids will have an early introduction and might be able to make the connection (also the eyes of Georgina Orwell’s sign really resemble the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg which pepper that The Great Gatsby).

It will be interesting to see how the series progresses.  Already in this volume, there has been talk of running away and abandoning the fortune simply for peace, but with a number of volumes left, it is a bit unknown if the children will start to get any older or mature.  A Series of Unfortunate Events 4:  The Miserable Mill was followed by A Series of Unfortunate Events 5:  The Austere Academy also released in 2000.

Related Links:

A Series of Unfortunate Events—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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