Monday, 9 March 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Grim Grotto, Chapter 11

We’re nearing the end of The Grim Grotto, which means we’ve only got two more books left to read in The Series of Unfortunate Events. It’s nearly the end! Quite literally in fact, since the last book in the series is called The End.

Last week the hook-handed man, who we now know as Fernald, decided that he would help the Baudelaires and Fiona to return to the Queequeg on one condition, that they took him back too. Apparently life in the service of Count Olaf isn’t all sunshine and roses. Who’d have thunk it?!

What Happens?

Fernald and Fiona help Violet, Klaus and Sunny get back onto the Queequeg by distracting Esme. Once back on the submarine, Violet and Klaus get to work looking through Mushroom Minutiae for a cure for Sunny. They find it, but unfortunately don’t have any in the kitchen of the Queequeg. Their only hope is to ask Sunny for a suitable substitute.

Thoughts as I read:

I really love the picture that opens this chapter. We can see Violet, Klaus, Fiona and Fernald peering round the block of text on the page. Klaus’s hand and Fernald’s hook are kind of holding onto the edge as well. I love pictures like this one. They all look kind of anxious (except Fernald, who liked of looks like his eyes are either closed or non-existent) so I’m going to guess that this is them trying to sneak off of the octo-sub.

Fiona immediately announces Fernald can come with them, the Baudelaires are a little more sceptical and don’t think this is such a good idea. I expect that Violet is especially reluctant to have him join their crew considering how he sort of lusted after her whenever Olaf had Violet cornered. I’d be worried too. Especially when he says that he’s got lots of places he’d like to go.

Getting back to the Queequeg will not be easy either; they’ve got to go back the way they came to the brig, which means passing Esme. He leads the way while Klaus and Violet question Fiona about whether they can trust him. Fiona is beyond reasoning with, she’s got her brother back and she doesn’t want to hear anything else.

Luckily Carmelita is keeping everyone’s attention on her. Her audience is pretty  reluctant as they’re having to row the Carmelita whilst watching and applauding the dance recital. Anyone who doesn’t clap is getting whipped. That’s fair.

There is nothing wicked about having a dreadful singing voice, any more than there is something wicked about having dreadful posture, dreadful cousins, or a dreadful pair of pants. Many noble and pleasant people have any number of these things, and there are even one or two kind individuals who have them all. But if you have something dreadful, and you force it upon someone else, then you have done something quite wicked indeed.

I’m pleased to learn that there is nothing wicked about my poor singing… except for when I force other people to listen to it, which is what Carmelita has started to do. It’s not pleasant and neither is Carmelita’s singing. It’s not a good song either, it’s basically an acrostic of her name, about all of the wonderful things that she is. And she’s really not any of them, especially ‘talented’.

Unfortunately for the Baudelaires and Widdershins they have to pass through this room; presuming all eyes are on Carmelita, they might just make it. The Baudelaires aren’t happy about that though they have to go through with it anyway. There’s really no reasoning with Fiona or Fernald.

We get a detailed description of the journey across the room, hiding behind pillars and lying on the floor to avoid being seen. They almost make it as well, that is, until Carmelita spots them. Fernald claims that he’s trying to get the Baudelaires to tell him where the sugar bowl is hidden and requests the use of the tagliatelle grande to help get it out of them. Fiona joins the ruse too and claims that she’s joined the crew of the Carmelita.

Luckily Fiona and Fernald give Violet, Klaus and Sunny the chance to get away without them, so the trio can head back to the Queequeg in search of the cure for Sunny. Klaus has remembered that the cure is in Mushroom Minutiae which is conveniently still lying in the floor of the Main Hall.

We then get to watch as Klaus flicks through the book, first locating the correct chapter and then skims through it trying to find some information about how to survive the Medusoid Mycelium. He gets to a little poem:

‘A single spore has such grim power
That you may die within the hour.
Is dilution simple? But of course!
Just one small dose of root of horse.’

So they just need to figure out what that means.

Violet nearly flips out when Klaus starts looking through his commonplace book, but he insists that taking a moment to think and consult the information they already have is the way forward here. And sure enough, he learns that something was being produced in a factory on Lousy Lane that would dilute the effects of the mycelium. Anyone remember what the smell was on Lousy Lane?

Luckily the children do, it was horseradish! And so begins a search of the kitchen. What they find is not good. There’s a lot of gum and not much else. Meanwhile Sunny is wheezing away and I can’t help but think that perhaps she is trying to tell her older siblings something.

Violet and Klaus aren’t looking though, they’re too busy looking at the coconut cream cake that they’ve just discovered. It’s got ‘Violet’s Fifteenth Date’ (heh, V.F.D.) written on it because at some point Violet has had her fifteenth birthday and it’s completely slipped her mind. At least it’s been a memorable occasion. Everyone apart from Sunny had forgotten. This does it for Violet and she kind of loses it, ending up sobbing on the floor.

At least this does prompt them to remember that Sunny is the best person to ask about a horseradish substitute, since she’s the cook in the family and all. Ignoring their own safety, Violet and Klaus decide that they should release Sunny from the diving helmet and pull her out. She’s got mushrooms in her mouth which is definitely not right. People should not grow mushrooms inside their bodies.

But Sunny knows something her brother and sister don’t and so with her remaining breath she says ‘Wasabi’ which explains to the others exactly what she needs.

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