Book Review: The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket

By Angela Maria Hart

The Reptile Room opened with Mr. Poe driving the Baudelaires down Lousy Lane. This title indicated that the children were in for another less than hopeful situation. Snicket provided these wonderful illustrations and foreshadowed the story ahead. As the reader, I was entertained and aware of the talented writing.

Mr. Poe drove the Baudelaires down Lousy Lane to deliver them to their guardian Montgomery Montgomery. I thought Snicket’s naming of Montgomery Montgomery was very clever. Once introduced to their new guardian, Montgomery Montgomery asked to be called Monty so that he was known as Monty Montgomery instead of Montgomery Montgomery. Snicket’s writing is exceptional and not reminiscent of any other writer that I have come across. His sense of humor is unique and consistent throughout each novel.

Personally, one of my favorite instances of Snicket’s writing occurs from page one hundred fifty-three to one hundred fifty-five in The Reptile Room. He included the word ever dozens upon dozens of time so that the entirety of page one hundred fifty-four is just the word ever over and over again. “We all know, of course, that we should never ever, ever, ever, ever, … ever, ever fiddle around in any way with electric devices never.”

While Snicket wrote a melancholy story, he still maintained a sense of light-heartedness that allowed the reader to have a sense of enjoyment even though, at times, the stories appeared bleak. Snicket was able to have a nice balance for the readers, having an interesting story and moments of comedy.

Monty Montgomery was a wonderful guardian to the Baudelaires. He offered them each their own room and presented them with the opportunity to decorate it in whichever way they saw fit. He allowed the children to be themselves and offered them a safe home environment. As I have mentioned before (in my previous post), I believe that libraries and books represent a character’s intentions and intellect throughout the series. Monty Montgomery has a grand library in The Reptile Room (where he keeps his reptiles to study). By housing a large library in his home, the reader can determine that Monty is a kind-hearted character and someone whom the children can trust.

Another example of Monty Montgomery being a good character is his sense of humor. Monty named his newfound reptile species the “Incredibly Deadly Viper.” While the reptile itself is actually completely harmless, he wanted to give it a name that was not what it appeared to be. Similar to the other scenarios that the children encounter, what they see and what they are told is not necessarily true.

In The Bad Beginning, Count Olaf was introduced as being a famous actor. The magnitude of his fame is questionable, yet his profession is well documented. By being an actor, Olaf had access to makeup, costumes, and the ability to adapt in different scenarios. Olaf’s talent of blending in and taking on new personas becomes a constant threat for the Baudelaires. In The Reptile Room, Olaf was introduced as Stephano. Count Olaf developed a new persona in the hope of gaining the Baudelaire’s family fortune.

Spoilers! Monty Montgomery would have been a wonderful guardian for the children, if Count Olaf had not reentered their lives. Olaf saw an opportunity and acted upon it, murdering Monty. The children are left once again to fend for themselves when Monty’s death is deemed an accident. Dr. Lucafont deemed Monty’s death an accident claiming that the Mamba du Mal venom was found in his veins.

The Baudelaires took it upon themselves to investigate and determine what the true cause of death was. Klaus and Violet realize that the Mamba du Mal would have left bruises on Monty and not killed him using venom. The Baudelaires were the ones who unraveled Count Olaf’s evil plans. Mr. Poe and the other authorities were completely useless in this regard. The children are the brains of the stories. At the end of The Reptile Room, Count Olaf and Dr. Lucafont, who was actually one of his theater troupe members in disguise, escaped. In the end, the Baudelaires were left with Mr. Poe in need of another new guardian. I recommend you read this entire stories and continue with The Wide Window