When Daniel Handler released The Bad Begining in 1999 under the pen name “Lemony Snicket,” he immediately captured readers’ attention and imagination. Over the next seven years, Handler released 12 more novels to complete A Series of Unfortunate Events. Since their release, the series has sold over 65 million copies worldwide and spawned numerous adaptations in both film and television.
Although these novels fall within the children’s stories genre, they are not just for children. The adventures of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are filled with all sorts of allusions and references to more adult themes that will leave older audiences chuckling. Handler’s ability to stretch the audience of his novels beyond the typical target audience of children flexes his ability as a writer.
One of the more unusual things about the novels is how Handler narrates the entire series as the character of “Lemony Snicket.” Snicket often attempts to dissuade and warn the reader from reading the “true” stories that follow. Keeping his audience in mind, Handler routinely describes new and unfamiliar words in a thoughtful and humorous way.
Critics have also praised Handler’s writing for challenging traditional gender norms and roles. You can see this throughout the series as the children traverse these lines through their personalities and actions.
Ultimately, what Handler achieved with the A Series of Unfortunate Events has had a remarkable impact on the genre of children’s literature. Quirky and eclectic, these stories continue to capture the minds of readers, both children, and adults alike, to this day. So, if you enjoyed the haphazard adventures of A Series of Unfortunate Events, here are 20 books, novels, stories, and collections that will keep you turning the page.
The Problim Children by Natalie Lloyd
2018 | Katherine Tegen Books
The Problim Children by Natalie Lloyd is dripping with the influence of A Series of Unfortunate Events. The book begins a trilogy that follows the seven Problim children through all sorts of globetrotting adventures.
It all begins when their home in the Swampy Woods blows up. From there, they move into their grandfather’s mysterious mansion, and the adventure truly begins. Jam-packed with mystery, quirky humor, and adventure, The Problim Children is a captivating read for all ages.
The Crims by Kate Davies
2017 | HarperCollins
Another more recent novel that you can quickly trace the influence of A Series of Unfortunate Events to, The Crims by Kate Davies, is a whacky series that follows a family of notoriously bad and unlucky criminals.
The Crims are bad because they are really bad at what they do. Great-Uncle Bernard once held himself hostage…by accident. Aunt Drusilla died slipping on a banana peel. In fact, the entire family is full of eccentric characters with their own quirks that make the story both hilarious and unpredictable. All except for Imogen, the only one who is actually skilled.
Davies’s writing is hilarious and offbeat. Irreverent and witty. It all adds up to make for a quirky, entertaining family story that appeals to anyone who loves a good laugh.
The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon
2015 | Greenwillow Books
The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon for its a charming and whimsical tale about a young boy’s adventure to find his missing explorer grandparents. The book features vivid illustrations and a story full of imagination and wonders, as protagonist Archer B. Helmsley sets out on a journey to the Arctic to solve the mystery of his grandparents’ disappearance.
Gannon’s writing style is engaging, with vivid and descriptive prose that captures the magic of the story. So much so that the New York Times said that “it practically demands it to be read out loud.” Overall, The Doldrums is a heartwarming read that will appeal to readers of all ages who enjoy stories of adventure, discovery, and the power of friendship.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
2008 | HarperCollins
Neil Gaiman is a master of writing across almost any genre he seeks to enter. The Graveyard Book, released in 2008, is known for its captivating and imaginative story about a young boy raised by ghosts in a graveyard.
The story contains a cast of memorable and quirky characters, including a vampire, a werewolf, and a witch, as well as a plot full of suspense and mystery. The Graveyard Book is darkly poetic and atmospheric, with a strong emphasis on the power of storytelling and the importance of family and community.
As always with Gaiman novels, The Graveyard Book is captivating and thought-provoking. Those who read it will leave with a deeper appreciation for the magic and wonder of life.
Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood
2011 | Balzer + Bray
Maryrose Wood’s 2011 book The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place is the first of a six-part series that follows the amusing and witty story of Miss Penelope Lumley and her task of educating three wild and mysterious children raised by wolves.
The book is filled with a cast of charming and eccentric characters, including the plucky protagonist Miss Penelope Lumley. The plot is full of twists and turns as she works to unravel the mystery of the children’s past.
Wood’s storytelling is engaging and playful, with clever wordplay and a keen sense of humor that will delight readers of all ages. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place is a charming and whimsical read that celebrates the joys of learning, imagination, and the transformative power of love and friendship.
Half-Minute Horrors by Susan Rich
2011 | HarperCollins
Half-Minute Horrors is different from every other entry on this list. Although Susan Rich is listed as the author, this book is filled with over 70 stories from writers such as James Patterson, Lemony Snicket, Neil Gaiman, R.L. Stine, Holly Black, Brett Heqluist, and Margaret Atwood.
The stories are all short, as you can guess by the title, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t packed with thrills, spills, and scares. You must dig in and see what they’ve created when you have this many talented writers in one place. With Half-Minute Horrors, you won’t be disappointed. You just might not look at your sock drawer the same way.
The Anybodies by N.E. Bode
2004 | HarperCollins
Fern has lived her whole life with the extremely dull Drudgers family. Fortunately for her, she quickly finds out that she was swapped at birth with a boy named Milton and that she will be swapped back with her proper family for the summer. However, things are not what they seem, and Fern quickly finds herself caught up in an adventure that is as magical as it is irreverent.
The book features a diverse cast of memorable characters, including the plucky protagonist Fern and the eccentric and lovable Anybodies. Fern’s adventures take many unexpected turns as she learns to navigate her new identity and uncover the secrets of her past.
In the end, The Anybodies is a delightful and captivating read that pushes the importance of imagination and the importance of finding one’s true identity.
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stuart
2008 | Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stuart is a thrilling and clever story about a group of children who are recruited to save the world from an evil mastermind’s nefarious plan.
The plot is full of puzzles, codes, and mystery as the children work together to outwit their opponents and uncover the truth. Even though they are young, the children show incredible intelligence, teamwork, and moral courage.
Thrilling and thought-provoking, The Mysterious Benedict Society will appeal to readers of all ages who enjoy stories of adventure, mystery, and the triumph of good over evil.
The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi
2003 | Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi is a mysterious and fantastical read for young audiences. It’s the first entry in the 5-part series The Spiderwick Chronicles.
Firstly, the book is beautifully written and illustrated, making it a joy to read and experience, especially for younger audiences. Secondly, it is a captivating and imaginative story about two siblings who discover a hidden world of faeries and must navigate its dangers and wonders.
The book also touches on important themes such as bravery, friendship, and the importance of protecting the environment. When it comes down to it, The Field Guide is an enchanting and timeless adventure that will capture the hearts and imaginations of readers.
The League of Beastly Dreadfuls by Holly Grant
2015 | Random House Books for Young Readers
Released in 2015, The League of Beastly Dreadfuls Book 1 by Holly Grant is a must-read for anyone who enjoys a thrilling, humorous adventure story.
The book tells the story of a young girl named Anastasia who is sent to live with her three eccentric and mysterious great-aunts in a strange and spooky mansion. Together, they uncover a web of secrets and conspiracies that involve magical creatures and sinister villains.
The book is chock-full of quirky characters, witty humor, and unexpected plot twists that keep readers hooked until the end. Grant has created a truly fulfilling read with The League of Beastly Dreadfuls that will appeal to children and adults alike. The book is also part of a trilogy, so you can continue to follow Anatasia’s adventures after you finish!
The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson
2013 | Harry N. Abrams
Literary great Eva Ibbotson’s final novel in her classic style, The Abominables, is a charming and heartwarming story that will delight readers of all ages.
The reader follows the adventure of a group of yetis who are forced to flee from their home in the Himalayas to escape the greed of humans. Along the way, they befriend a young girl named Con, and together they embark on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance.
The book is packed with vivid descriptions, rich characters, and a touching message about the importance of kindness and understanding. It’s classic Ibbotson which is all you could ever ask for. At its heart, The Abominables is a beautifully crafted tale that will leave readers feeling uplifted and inspired.
The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch
2007 | Little, Brown
The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch is a thrilling and mysterious adventure that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. In keeping with Bosch’s wishes, we must keep much of this book’s contents a secret.
We can tell you that the book follows the story of two young protagonists, Cass and Max-Ernest. When they encounter a mysterious box, they begin to unravel a dangerous and secretive mystery involving a secret society, a missing magician, and a powerful, mysterious substance.
Filled with unexpected twists and turns, witty humor, and engaging characters, The Name of this Book is Secret is a book that readers will instantly connect with. But that’s all we can tell you. The rest, after all, is a secret. You can find out more by ordering your copy today!
The Puzzling World of Winston Breen by Eric Berlin
2009 | Puffin Books
The first book in a trilogy, The Puzzling World of Winston Breen by Eric Berlin, is delightful and engaging for anyone who loves puzzles and mysteries.
The story follows a young boy named Winston Breen, who is obsessed with puzzles and games. When he discovers an old puzzle book in his attic, he and his friends become embroiled in a mystery that takes them on a thrilling and challenging journey.
What makes this book so fascinating is that it is filled with clever and challenging puzzles that readers can solve along with Winston. The book also explores important themes such as family, friendship, and the importance of teamwork.
Engaging from beginning to end, The Puzzling World of Winston Breen is a unique, engaging, and entertaining read for all audiences. If you’re ready to solve some puzzles, order your copy now!
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
1978 | E.P. Dutton
A literary classic and one of the most revered children’s books of all time, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin is a mystery novel that is perfect for readers who love a good whodunit.
The plot revolves around the mysterious death of millionaire Sam Westing and the sixteen heirs he has chosen to compete for his fortune in a game of clues and puzzles. Paired off seemingly at random, each character has their own motives and secrets.
Raskin expertly explores themes such as the American Dream, success’s meaning, and the power of perseverance. It makes The Westing Game a smart and thought-provoking mystery that has captured readers’ imaginations for almost 50 years. Dive into the mystery and order your copy of this classic.
The Golly Whopper Games by Jody Feldman
2008 | Greenwillow Books
Following the story of a group of kids chosen to compete in a high-stakes competition filled with puzzles, riddles, and challenges, The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman is a fun and exciting book that will keep readers entertained from start to finish.
As the kids work together to solve the puzzles and win the game, they also learn important lessons about teamwork, trust, and perseverance. Feldman includes clever clues throughout the story as well as a few twists that will keep readers guessing until the end.
Anyone who enjoys a good adventure story with humor, heart, and brain-teasing puzzles will absolutely adore The Gollywhopper Games. Order your copy now!
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
1924 | Rand McNally
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner is a timeless classic that has captivated generations of young readers for decades.
Released all the way back in 1924, the book follows the story of four siblings who run away and make a home for themselves in an abandoned boxcar in the woods. As they work together to survive and keep their secret, they encounter new challenges and learn important life skills.
Warner packs the story with heartwarming moments, adventure, and a sense of nostalgia that will transport readers back to a simpler time. It also teaches important lessons about family, resourcefulness, and self-reliance. It is no wonder that The Boxcar Children has become an all-time literary classic. Add this timeless piece of literature to your collection today.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
1961 | Random House
Whimsical and imaginative, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster is another classic that continues to delight readers.
Published in 1961, the reader follows the story of a young boy named Milo, who finds himself transported to a strange and fantastical world filled with wordplay, puns, and riddles. As Milo embarks on a quest to save the Kingdom of Wisdom, he meets a colorful cast of characters who challenge his assumptions and broaden his perspective.
Filled with clever wordplay and illustrations, Juster has created a fun and engaging read for both children and adults. As with most children’s books, it’s filled with important themes and morals. Specifically the value of curiosity, learning, and the importance of thinking outside the box. The Phantom Tollbooth is a thought-provoking read that will leave readers with a sense of wonder and imagination. Begin your adventure by ordering a copy.
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
2005 | Alfred A. Knopf
Jeanne Birdsall’s 2005 children’s book, The Penderwicks, is heartwarming and charming, perfect for readers of all ages.
The four Penderwick sisters are on summer vacation with their father at a cottage in the Berkshires. As the sisters explore the beautiful gardens and surrounding countryside, they quickly encounter new friends, go on adventures, and learn important life lessons.
Birdsall’s beautiful descriptions of nature help create a vivid setting for the story. She also touches on important themes, such as the value of family, the importance of kindness, and the power of friendship. The Penderwicks is a delightful and uplifting book that is sure to leave readers feeling happy and inspired.
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
2004 | Yearling
Captivating from the start, Jeanne DuPrau’s 2004 novel The City of Ember transports readers to a post-apocalyptic world where a city is struggling to survive in darkness.
The story follows two young protagonists, Lina and Doon, as they uncover secrets about their city’s past and work together to find a way to save its future. The book is infused with plenty of suspense, mystery, and adventure, making it an engaging read for older children, young adults, and adults alike.
Additionally, the themes of resource scarcity, political corruption, and the importance of knowledge provide a relevant commentary on our own world. It all comes together to make The City of Ember a must-read for anyone and a book that leaves a lasting impression. See why by ordering your own copy today.
The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
2015 | Harry N. Abrams
Spooky and scary enough to keep you turning the page, The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier is a haunting and atmospheric tale that weaves horror, fantasy, and historical fiction into one book.
Molly and Kip are two siblings on their way to work at a creepy mansion in a remote English village. There they discover the existence of a sinister tree that seems to have a malevolent hold over the inhabitants of the town.
Auxier’s writing is poetic and evocative, and he creates a vivid and unsettling world that will stay with readers long after they’ve finished the book. With eerie and suspenseful moments that keep the reader on edge, the book explores deeper themes of family, love, and sacrifice. In short, The Night Gardener is a masterfully crafted work of literature that will delight anyone who loves a good scare but not too much of one. Experience this modern classic in the making and order your copy now!
Children’s and young adult books/novels are always interesting. Often, once someone catches the reading bug, they will quickly challenge themselves with longer, more engaging, and profound reads.
A Series of Unfortunate Events is a series that makes reading fun. Dark at times but packed with important morals, lessons, and themes, the series engages young readers and makes older ones laugh.
The books, novels, and collections in this list range in terms of their complexity and page count. But, what they all do is make reading fun. Whether you’re young and just starting out on your reading adventure, or you are older and want to look back into simpler times, this list has the books that will help you do it. Happy reading!
How many books are in A Series of Unfortunate Events?
There are thirteen books in total in the series. In order, they are:
The Bad Beginning (1999)
The Reptile Room (1999)
The Wide Window (2000)
The Miserable Mill (2000)
The Austere Academy (2000)
The Ersatz Elevator (2001)
The Vile Village (2001)
The Hostile Hospital (2001)
The Carnivorous Carnival (2002)
The Slippery Slope (2003)
The Grim Grotto (2004)
The Penultimate Peril (2005)
The End (2006)
Has the series been adapted for film/TV?
Yes, the series has been adapted multiple times. A standalone film was released in 2004 that starred Jim Carrey and Meryl Streep. A television series produced by Netflix that was released in 2017. It ran for three seasons and covered the eternity of the series over a total of 25 episodes.
Has Daniel Handler written any other books as Lemony Snicket?
He has. In fact, Snicket serves as the main character in Handler/Snicket’s four-book prequel to A Series of Unfortunate Events titled All the Wrong Questions. He has gone on to write seven more books/novels under that name at the time of writing.
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