Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Vile Village, Chapter 12

I can’t believe that I’ve nearly finished this book and I still managed to make it to 50,000 words for my NaNo, I seriously did not think I was going to be able to do that! I was toying with not moving on to the next book until after Christmas but I’ve decided against that. I’m going to squeeze these posts in around my regular posts and the guest blogger posts but it might mean taking a little while longer to get through because I’m trying to limit myself to no more than two blog posts a day.

Just a heads up.

Oh and in other news, I’ve decided to aim for 100,000 words for NaNo this year, seeing as we’re a little over halfway through the month and I’m a little over halfway to that target. Seemed like a good thing to aim for. We’ll see how well that one goes too.

On with the penultimate chapter…

What Happens?

The Quagmires fill the Baudelaires in on all the things that have happened to them since they were separated, this includes explaining how they were able to send the couplets via the V.F.D. crows. The children are then spotted by the villagers and chased through the town. They all end up heading for Hector’s place to escape in the hot air balloon, but when they arrive there’s no sign of Hector or his invention.

Thoughts as I read:

This chapter image gives us another shot of what a host of villagers holding flaming torches might look like. It’s seven arms all holding a torch, one of them even has a fashionably pinstriped sleeve. There’s not really much else I can say about these so we’ll just move on with the next bit of the story, shall we?

If you have reached this far in the story, you must stop now.

Obviously, we’ll disregard Snicket’s advice. He reminds us of how miserable things are about to get, if you thought things were depressing before this, well hold onto your hats because it’s about to get worse. On the other hand, if you’re feeling a bit miserable these books are the perfect thing to read because compared to the Baudelaires, your life will just look peachy. Not that I’m miserable right now, I’m happy, I’m on target for 100,000 words and I’m watching the Dixie Chicks DVD Mr Click got me for my birthday while all my pets sleep beside me, but I thought I’d just through it out there as a recommendation if you’re feeling a bit low.

Violet suddenly realises that danger is approaching and is forced to end the happy reunion. Klaus then chooses this moment to fill in the Quagmires on the fact that Detective Dupin is really Count Olaf. The Quagmires cut him off though, they already know this as well as everything that’s been going on with the Baudelaires. This is convenient because it saves us from another recap of what’s happened during the last two hundred pages.

When the Baudelaires were cleaning the fountain the Quagmires could hear them, but they couldn’t make themselves heard in return. They’ve been gathering information in their notebooks, even though they’re both soaked their notebooks have stayed relatively dry. Perhaps they’ve got those notebooks made out of stone like the one I got in Edinburgh Zoo the other week (apparently it’s waterproof but I don’t really like to get it wet to test how waterproof it really is).

This is when we learn that the real V.F.D. is not the Village of Fowl Devotees at all. So their decision to come here was wrong entirely. They’re still standing there talking, Duncan’s about to tell them about Jacques but the Council of Elders has just spotted the massive hole the Baudelaires left in the side of the jail. This is where I forgot for a moment that I’m reading The Series of Unfortunate Events right now, not Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (which I was reading a couple of hours ago) and I wonder why they didn’t just Reparo the wall or something. Then I realise that wouldn’t work in this book anyway.

It’s ironic that the town even has a rule about not escaping from the jail. Who’d’ve thought it?!

The villagers also go on to notice that the Fowl Fountain looks different now, so it’s assumed that the Baudelaires are just running riot in the village with wanton acts of vandalism all over the place. Luckily the villagers go off to find Detective Dupin and alert The Daily Punctilio leaving the children safe for the time being.

Sunny sums it up well when she says “Cose” meaning that it was a bit too close for her liking. They’ve only got one place to go now, they’ve got to get to Hector and the hot air balloon, it’s about their only hope for escape. Sunny says “Scylla!” meaning “It’s either the self-sustaining hot air mobile home or being burned at the stake!” I feel it’s also worth pointing out here that Scylla was also a monster in Greek mythology, I’m not entirely sure what the connection is between this monster and a self-sustaining hot air mobile home.

Having googled this I’ve discovered the idiom “between Scylla and Charybdis” which is a bit like being “between a rock and a hard place”. Wikipedia says it means “being between two dangers, choosing either of which brings harm”. Well said Sunny. See how educational these books are!

As they head for Nevermore Tree Klaus brings up the question of how they were able to deliver the couplets, which leads to the Quagmires telling them everything that has happened since we saw them last. Basically they were held for a while in the Baudelaires’ old bedroom at Olaf’s place, then Olaf got the fountain built (he already seems to have inexhaustible wealth which does make you wonder why he needs the Baudelaire fortune as well), and the Quagmires were hidden inside.

The couplet riddle was Isadora’s idea and they managed to send them to the Baudelaires each morning by wrapping a soggy couple round a bird’s leg, knowing it would fall off when it came to roost at the end of the day. Evidently it worked really well.

Then they bring up Jacques and we get a bit of a revelation that I had completely forgotten. Jacques is actually Jacques Snicket. Ooh! I remember reading this for the first time and getting really excited at this bit. When Violet thinks his name is familiar Duncan is unsurprised, after all “Jacques Snicket is the brother of a man who –” but who he is we never find out because once again Duncan is interrupted as one of the villagers spots the children.

As the villagers rush towards them we hear them wondering who the two additional children are. They don’t have a clue who the Quagmires are but decide to burn them at the stake too since they’re probably more accomplices. Plus they’re breathing so they’re probably breaking at least ten of the village’s rules.

Once again Sunny is the one to get everyone to snap out of terrified paralysis and says “Lililk!” which means “Let’s go! Don’t look behind you! Let’s just try to get to Hector and his self-sustaining hot air mobile home before the mob catches up with us and burns us at the stake!” I am rapidly coming to the decision that Sunny is one of my favourite characters in the series in this read through, she’s kind of the glue that holds everybody together. And she stops them getting caught quite a lot of the time too!

So the kids run, with all the villages chasing after them:

Occasionally they had to retrace their steps, a phrase which here means “turn around and run the other way when they saw townspeople approaching”…

Eventually they make it back to Hector’s place and can’t see any sign of Hector or the hot air balloon. So they start to panic a little bit. Luckily Sunny is still with them so she says “Vireo!” which means “Let’s run – or, in my case, crawl – as fast as we can!”. Violet points out that even running and crawling they’re not going to be able to get away as the villagers are closing in on them all now.

There’s a mention here of ‘an enormous root vegetable’ which I didn’t immediately get the reference to until later in the paragraph. Earlier in the book we heard about ‘small potatoes’ well the attack of the villagers is not small potatoes at all. This is great big, giant scary potatoes.

And the Baudelaires are trapped.

And there’s no way out.

And that’s the end of the chapter so you’re going to have to wait until Thursday to find out how it ends!

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