(NOTE: I listened to the audiobook narrated by Tim Curry available through Audible.)
Violet, Klaus, & baby Sunny Baudelaire were made orphans after the unfortunate death of the parents in a fire. Their parents' Will stated that all of their fortune was to go in to trust & not to be accessable until Violet comes of age. Also stated in their Will is that children were to be given to their next-of-kin. Enter Count Olaf, a terrible, terrible person. The children are mistreated, made to live in horrible living conditions, & they are forced to be servants to the Count. Meanwhile, Count Olaf is working overtime to devise a plan to get his hands on the Baudelaire fortune. Thank goodness there are a few decent people that are working on behalf of the childrens' best interest. There is a wonderful neighbor, Justice Strauss, that adores the children, & it doesn't hurt the childrens' situation that she just happens to be a judge. There is also the banker, Mr Poe, that is the executor of the trust. But can the goodness of the judge & banker overcome the devious Count Olaf? For now, but time will tell in book 2.
I'm a little ashamed that I liked the book as much as I did. I listened to the audiobook through Audible narrated by Tim Curry. That likely played a big part in my overall ranking. Fantastic narration! Saying I "liked" the book is really difficult for me given that the story was SUPER depressing & downright infuriating at points. However, the characters were strong, & I couldn't put the book down because I NEEDED to find out if the children escaped the clutches of Count Olaf. As much as it hurt to read this book, I find myself needing to read the next one to see how the childrens' plight plays out.
Age recommendation: 10 & up (scenes of neglect & mistreatment of young children)
On a scale of 1-10 stars, I give it 8.