Wednesday, 23 January 2013

"Who Could That Be at This Hour?"

"Who Could That Be at This Hour?"
Lemony Snicket
London, Egmont, 2012, 258p

When reading or watching something that is part of a series, I am incredibly impatient. I hate cliffhangers. Often, I wait until the whole series is available, so I can enjoy it without suffering from regular breaks. Unfortunately, I read this new Snicket novel without considering the fact that it is the first in his new series, All the Wrong Questions.

"Who Could That Be at This Hour?" is a first person narrative from the voice of Lemony Snicket (who, we must note, is the pseudonym of Daniel Handler, the genius who brought us The Series of Unfortunate Events). Having completed an unusual education, Snicket is apprenticed to an incompetent detective, and sent to Stain'd-by-the-Sea to help return a stolen statue to it's owner. But Snicket is certain that things are not as they seem.

This novel is such a clever book, it almost seems to be showing off. Snicket clearly loves language - he uses words that even I could not define. Fortunately, throughout the text, he defines any complex terminology, creating both clarity for the reader, and light entertainment in the tone:
"Your penchant for asking too many questions and for general rudeness makes me reluctant to keep you. 'Penchant' is a word which here means habit."
Handler's creative imagination has no bounds - he places our protagonist in a fabulous world full of literary references. The characters are equally peculiar and marvelous - my favourite of whom is sub-librarian Dashiell Qwerty - what a brilliant name! You have to suspend your disbelief, but it's totally worth it. Mystery seeps through every page, causing both the characters and reader to question what is happening; but the novel is also full of comedy, the combination of which makes for delightful literature. 

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