Who Could That Be At That Hour? by Lemony Snicket
Release Date: October, 2012
Publisher: Little Brown
Age Group: Children’s
Series: All the Wrong Questions #1
Other Titles in the Series: When Did You See Her Last? (#2), Shouldn’t You Be in School? (#3)
Summary (goodreads.com): The adventure began in a fading town. Far from anyone he knew or trusted, a young Lemony Snicket started an apprenticeship for a secret organization shrouded in mystery and secrecy. He asked questions that shouldn't have been on his mind. Now he has written an account that should not be published that shouldn't be read. Not even by you. Seriously, we recommend that you do NOT ask your parents for this, the first book in his new ALL THE WRONG QUESTIONS series. Lemony Snicket, in case you don't already know, grew up to be the author of A Series of Unfortunate Events series.
I think it is spectacular to be reading a book about the biographer and narrator of the extremely popular A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket's early life. Anyone who has read ASOUE harbors a quiet curiosity about Snicket and instead of fully answering those questions right out the mystery surrounding him grows. And while this is without a doubt a different series from his previous one Lemony Snicket's writing style is here in full force. One of the most memorable parts of Snicket's writing in ASOUE is when he uses a word that is perhaps unfamiliar to his young audience and then goes on to say "a word which here means" a very specific definition that can only have meaning in that particular instance, but is not exactly wrong. In All the Wrong Questions readers learn where Snicket got that habit from, which was really exciting for me.
Who Could That Be At This Hour? introduces a wonderful new cast of characters, mysteries, and settings that are intriguing. I loved the relationship between Snicket and his chaperon, S. Theodora Markson, who out of a list of 52 people was dead last. Snicket chose her so that he could spend more time doing his own thing and that is played out throughout the book. Like ASOUE Snicket plays with the idea of useless, senseless adults to make the kids of the novel reach their full witty potential.
I really liked the setting of Stain'd-by-the-sea, the town that was drained of its water so that it was easier to harvest the ink from the octopi in the caves below. I liked the idea of seashell paved roads and a seaweed forest. The cast of eccentric characters that Stain'd-by-the-sea brought with it are perhaps my favorite part of this novel. I loved the brothers who drove the taxi together with one pushing the peddles and one steering and asked only for tips such as "if you haven't read The Wind in the Willows, you really should." The sub-librarian whose name is ridiculously appropriate, Dashiell Qwerty, and the married police duo of Mimi and Harvey Mitchum who do nothing but argue with each other and dote on their son Stew, a Dudley Dursleyish character are all characters that make the book stand out.
The mystery surrounding Hangfire, Ellington Feint, and the Bombinating Beast is complex and intriguing. The obvious but almost frustratingly unanswered questions such as what kind of education did Lemony Snicket have? Why were people trying to poison him? What does the S in S. Theodora Markson stand for? are all set up to seem like they are the wrong questions to ask which is what will keep readers on the edge of their seats waiting for a sequel!