If Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events was a play on the gothic novel, (evil, evil, really evil antagonists, scary architecture, and mysterious places) Who Could That be at This Hour? is a play on the mystery genre.
WCTBATH features more interesting places: a run-down town once known for producing ink, now know for producing nothing but has a cool coffee shop with a secret door and a library that allows Snicket to communicate with his companion, intriguing characters: a want-to-be journalist who asks the tough questions and is always striking away at a typewriter, and a girl with mysteries of her own, and a bigger mystery: I’ve already given enough away, the mystery of the mystery novel will remain a mystery.
The plot focuses on Snicket’s (yes, if you didn’t already know, Snicket is the protagonist (a young one at that)), own mystery. He is taken from a coffee shop to work with a mentor solving mysteries for other people. We don’t know why. Maybe it has to do with the elusive VFD, and maybe it’s something different all together. But he gets taken to the ink town to solve a mystery, and in true Snicket fashion, more mysteries are left unanswered than solved.
While I was a total and complete SOUE obsessed kid, and I knew I would love this novel, I was left a bit wanting. I just wanted more. And maybe it’s because I’m a total impatient reader, but I felt like the SOUE series left me wishing but never wanting. This is a mystery, but maybe a bit too much of a mystery. I wanted more character development: what’s going to happen with the journalist girl, why is Lemony talking with an unnamed companion through library book requests, WHAT IS GOING ON? I’m not 12 anymore, I don’t understand why I can’t figure out this mystery. But I love it at the same time, why am I older and wiser and still unable to figure out Snicket’s obscure and wonderful mysteries? I love that I have to wait until the next book to figure something out.
And can we talk about how wonderful it is that the voice is coming from Snicket this time? I mean, it did the last time, he was the all-knowing narrator, but now he’s the main character, his snark is front and center. And his voice still allows the tale to show that children are smart and cunning and special. One of my favorite parts of SOUE was the fact that each child had a special interest and talent, something that they really shone at. As a child, it made my bookish ways seem wonderful and to be applauded. I think all children need to feel that their gift is worth something (which they are) and Snicket and his companions are already outsmarting the adults and showing that nothing is smarter than a child who yearns to learn more.