The word "carnivorous", which appears in the title of this book, means "meat-eating", and once you have read such a bloodthirsty word, there is no reason to read any further. This carnivorous volume contains such a distressing story that consuming any of its contents would be far more stomach-turning than even the most imbalanced meal.
It would be best if I didn't mention any of the unnerving ingredients of this story, particularly a confusing map, an ambidextrous person, an unruly crowd, a wooden plank, and Chabo the Wolf Baby.
To avoid causing discomfort, your time might be better filled with something more palatable, such as eating your vegetables, or feeding them to someone else.
With all due respect,
When my workday is over, and I have closed my notebook, hidden my pen, and sawed
holes in my rented canoe so that it cannot be found, I often like to spend the
evening in conversation with my few surviving friends. Sometimes we discuss
literature. Sometimes we discuss the people who are trying to destroy us, and if
there is any hope of escaping from them. And sometimes we discuss frightening
and troublesome animals that might be nearby, and this topic always leads to
much disagreement over which part of a frightening and troublesome beast is the
most frightening and troublesome. Some say the teeth of the beast, because teeth
are used for eating children, and often their parents, and gnawing their bones.
Some say the claws of the beast, because claws are used for ripping things to
shreds. And some say the hair of the beast, because hair can make allergic
But I always insist that the most frightening part of any beast is its belly,
for the simple reason that if you are seeing the belly of the beast it means you
have already seen the teeth of the beast and the claws of the beast and even the
hair of the beast, and now you are trapped and there is probably no hope for
you. For this reason, the phrase "in the belly of the beast" has become an
expression which means "inside some terrible place with little chance of
escaping safely," and it is not an expression one should look forward to
I m sorry to tell you that this book will use the expression "the belly of the
beast" three times before it is over, not counting all of the times I have
already used "the belly of the beast" in order to warn you of all the times "the
belly of the beast" will appear. Three times over the course of this story,
characters will be inside some terrible place with little chance of escaping
safely, and for that reason I would put this book down and escape safely
yourself, because this woeful story is so very dark and wretched and damp that
the experience of reading it will make you feel as if you are in the belly of
the beast, and that time doesn't count either.
The Baudelaire orphans were in the belly of the beast - that is, in the dark
and cramped trunk of a long, black automobile. Unless you are a small, portable
object, you probably prefer to sit in a seat when you are traveling by
automobile, so you can lean back against the upholstery, look out the window at
the scenery going by, and feel safe and secure with a seat belt fastened low and
tight across your lap. But the Baudelaires could not lean back, and their bodies
were aching from squishing up against one another for several hours. They had no
window to look out of, only a few bullet holes in the trunk made from some
violent encounter I have not found the courage to research. And they felt
anything but safe and secure as they thought about the other passengers in the
car, and tried to imagine where they were going.
The driver of the automobile was a man named Count Olaf, a wicked person with
one eyebrow instead of two and a greedy desire for money instead of respect for
other people. The Baudelaires had first met Count Olaf after receiving the news
that their parents had been killed in a terrible fire, and had soon discovered
he was only interested in the enormous fortune their mother and father had left
behind. With unceasing determination - a phrase which here means "no matter
where the three children went" - Count Olaf had pursued them, trying one
dastardly technique after another to get his hands on their fortune. So far he
had been unsuccessful, although he'd had plenty of help from his girlfriend,
Esmi Squalor - an equally wicked, if more fashionable, person who was now
sitting beside him in the front seat of the automobile - and an assortment of
assistants, including a bald man with an enormous nose, two women who liked to
wear white powder all over their faces, and a nasty man who had hooks instead of
hands. All of these people were sitting in the back of the automobile, where the
children could sometimes hear them speaking over the roar of the engine and the
sounds of the road.
One would think, with such a wretched crew as traveling companions, that the
Baudelaire siblings would have found some other way to travel rather than
sneaking into the trunk, but the three children had been fleeing from
circumstances even more frightening and dangerous than Olaf and his assistants
and there had been no time to be choosy. But as their journey wore on, Violet,
Klaus, and Sunny grew more and more worried about their situation. The sunlight
coming in through the bullet holes faded to evening, and the road beneath them
turned bumpy and rough, and the Baudelaire orphans tried to imagine where it was
they were going and what would happen when they got there. "Are we there yet?"
The voice of the hook-handed man broke a long silence. "I told you not to ask me
that anymore," replied Olaf with a snarl. "We'll get there when we get there,
and that is that."
"Could we possibly make a short stop?" asked one of the white-faced women. "I
noticed a sign for a rest station in a few miles."
"We don't have time to stop anywhere," Olaf said sharply. "If you needed to use
the bathroom, you should have gone before we left."
"But the hospital was on fire," the woman whined.
"Yes, let's stop," said the bald man. "We haven't had anything to eat since
lunch, and my stomach is grumbling."
"We can't stop," Esmi said. "There are no restaurants out here in the
hinterlands that are in."
Excerpted from "The Carnivorous Carnival (A Series of Unfortunate Events # 9)" by Lemony Snicket. Copyright © 2002 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 solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.