The short: 4/5 ✦. A satisfying, if bittersweet conclusion to the All the Wrong Questions series.
It’s hard to review a Lemony Snicket book – you either like his style or you don’t. His prose is more about wordplay and clever witticisms than it is about plot and characters. That, of course, is not a detrimental thing, but it does make it hard to dissect. The All the Wrong Questions series is “kid-friendly” detective noir with Snicket’s signature “unfortunate” twist. There are no easy answers to all those wrong questions, people die, adults are useless, and the fate of the world rests on the young shoulders of a few clever children. It’s not fair, and it would make for a difficult read if not for the dry humor and over-the-top characters.
Why Is This Night Different from All Other Nights? is the final book in this prequel series to The Series of Unfortunate Events. You don’t need to have read that particular collection of books to understand what’s going on, but I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to. It’s about a young Lemony Snicket (yes, the author), on one of his first missions for the V.F.D. There are references to other members that were named in the Unfortunate Series, though these are few and far between.
This book takes place almost entirely on a train, making for a neat quartet between all four novels of various archetypal mystery locations. All the major characters are present, and all major plot lines are resolved – well, most of them, anyway. As I felt while reading the third book, this series seems like it’s better to read it all in one go. There are many details that I simply plain forgot about, characters whose names are unfamiliar, and so the overall impact of these final resolutions may have been a little lost on me. The ending, however, was indeed shocking, and the novel concludes on a bittersweet note. To say more would be spoiling, and despite being mildly confused, I think this book wraps up the series quite nicely.
Header image: Why Is This Night Different from All Other Nights? by Lemony Snicket, published September 29th 2015 by Little, Brown and Company.