Books·Reading List

3 books to read if you loved Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

Done binge-watching Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events adaptation? Here are three books to check out.
Lemony Snicket is the pen name of Dan Handler. He is the author of the A Series of Unfortunate Events. (Meredith Heuer/Little, Brown & Company/HarperCollins)

Finished binge-watching Neil Patrick Harris in the Netflix adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events? Here are three books you'll love.

The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands

Kevin Sands is the author of The Blackthorn Key. (Thomas Zitnansky/Simon & Schuster Canada)

What it's about: Christopher Rowe, a talented apothecary's apprentice, finds himself in mortal danger when a serial killer arrives in town. A complex trail of clues is left by one of the victims — and Christopher is left to unmask the culprits and their motives before time runs out.

If your favourite thing about A Series of Unfortunate Events was: Brilliant young characters with an insatiable appetite for learning. Daring, danger and adventure.

When you're in the mood for: Historical fantasy and page-turning mystery combined. A perilous quest, made more bearable by true friendship.

Age advisory: Recommended for readers as young as 10, but adults will find this book delightful as well.

From the book: "'Let's build a cannon,' I said. Tom wasn't listening. He was deep in concentration, tongue pinched between his teeth, as he steeled himself for combat with the stuffed black bear that ruled the front corner of my master's shop. Tom stripped off his linen shirt and flung it heroically across the antimony cups gleaming on the display table near the fire. From the oak shelf nearest to him, he snatched the glazed lid of an apothecary jar — Blackthorn's Wart-Be-Gone, according to the scrawl on the label — and held it on guard, a miniature ceramic shield. In his right hand, the rolling pin wobbled threateningly. Tom Bailey, son of William the Baker, was the finest fake soldier I'd ever seen. Though only two months older than me, he was already a foot taller, and built like a blacksmith, albeit a slightly pudgy one, due to a steady pilfering of his father's pies. And in the safety of my master's shop, away from the horrors of battle like death, pain or even a mild scolding, Tom's courage held no equal."

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Emily Carroll is the author and illustrator of Through the Woods. (Simon and Schuster)

What it's about: A series of... well... unfortunate events befalling an array of characters, presented as short story horror comics. 

If your favourite thing about A Series of Unfortunate Events was: Victorian steampunk. Unlucky people and unhappy endings. A creeping sense that something wicked this way comes.

When you're in the mood for: Gruesome, imaginative tales (think Grimm's Fairy Tales, with an emphasis on "grim"). A fast-paced read that will leave you with chills for days.

Age advisory: Nightmare potential is high, so save this one for the 14+ crowd.

From the book:

(Simon and Schuster Canada)

The Hidden Keys by André Alexis

Andre Alexis is the author of The Hidden Keys. (Fabiola Carletti/Coach House Books)

What it's about:  An honourable Toronto thief is tasked with deciphering a set of clues that could lead to a vast fortune — or nothing at all. Tancred Palmieri is recruited by heroin addict Willow Azarian, whose wealthy father has left the city— wide treasure hunt as his parting gift.

If your favourite thing about A Series of Unfortunate Events was:  Unusually bright heroes operating under grim circumstances. Defeating villains with cunning, rather than bravado.

When you're in the mood for: A brilliant puzzle, a cast of highly manipulative characters, twists and turns that keep you guessing until the end.

Age advisory: Inquisitive teens and adults will love this book.

From the book: "Tancred was a tall and physically imposing black man, but he was also approachable. He could not sit anywhere for long without someone starting a conversation. This was, his friends liked to say, because his blue eyes were startling and his voice deep and avuncular. So, when he wanted to be alone without necessarily being alone, Tancred answered in French — his maternal tongue — when spoken to by strangers. Few who came into the Dolphin knew the language. But Willow Azarian did, and she took the fact that Tancred spoke it as a portent. They would be friends."


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