Friday, 20 February 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Slippery Slope, Chapter 13

We’re so close to the end right now. We’ve reached the final chapter of The Slippery Slope and soon we’ll be moving on to Book 11 in The Series of Unfortunate Events, The Grim Grotto. But for now we still have somewhere in the region of fifty pages to go. That’s practically half of the first book!

What Happens?

At the top of Mount Fraught the Snow Scouts show up for their False Spring celebrations. As they all get involved in their dance around the springpole the eagles are summoned to pull up the net and carry them away with the mysterious man and woman. Carmelita joins Olaf and Esme, despite the Baudelaires and Quigley telling her not to. The four children then hop onto the toboggan to escape from Olaf and the gang. This does not end well as they are thrown into the water and the Baudelaires are separated from Quigley.

Thoughts as I read:

The Eagles are coming! The Eagles are coming! Oh, sorry, I’ve been watching The Hobbit special features and I guess I got confused about what I was reading. This chapter opens with a picture of a whole bunch of eagles flying around the chapter heading. There’s nearly twenty of them in fact. Are the eagles going to come and save the day? Let’s find out.

After Violet told Olaf that she knew where the sugar bowl is, Olaf reacts by demanding that she give it to him. They’re at a bit of a stalemate because Violet’s not telling him anything until she has Sunny and Olaf’s threatening to throw them off the mountain if they don’t give him the sugar bowl. Klaus does point out that throwing them off will mean they’ll never get the sugar bowl.

Even better, this degenerates into an argument between Olaf and Esme. Esme doesn’t care for Sunny and wants the sugar bowl. Olaf is more interested in the fortune and so needs Sunny for that. They’re stopped by the man with a beard but no hair and the woman with hair but no beard who order the white-faced women to bring Sunny to them.

While the casserole dish is fetched the mysterious man and woman pull out these whistles and use them to summon hundreds of eagles. Apparently since the schism the volunteers have got custody of the carrier crows and the trained reptiles (which Olaf dismisses as they’ve got all of them except one, I bet that’s the Incredibly Deadly Viper), but the bad guys have got the eagles.

And this is how we learn what the plan is for getting their recruits. The eagles will carry the giant net and use it to capture the Snow Scouts. The scouts aren’t going to get much of a choice about whether or not they actually want to join, they either can or they can become prisoners and either way their parents’ homes will be burned down. That’ll give them access to all those other fortunes; the Spats’, the Kornbluth’s, the Winnipeg’s, Olaf and Esme will have them all.

So an agreement is reached. They tell everyone where they can find the sugar bowl, and they can take Sunny away with them. Violet just keeps on bluffing. She tells them that they’ll be meeting up with the other volunteers at the last safe place to pass on the information about the bad guys’ plans.

At this moment the Snow Scouts show up with Carmelita Spats leading the way with Bruce. Violet and Klaus are suddenly struck by the face that Bruce looks quite familiar but they don’t dwell on it for very long because they have other things on their mind. Violet and Klaus do try to warn Bruce that it’s a trap but Bruce is dense enough that when Olaf tells Bruce to ignore the masked volunteers, Bruce complies.

Carmelita is her usual rude self. This is her party and she doesn’t want these strange people wearing masks, after all, there’s no snow gnats around now so they don’t need them, do they? So, to avoid seeming suspicious, all three children remove their masks.

This surprises everyone, considering that all three children are supposed to be dead. Olaf tells them that they’re dead, despite the obvious evidence to the contrary. This also means that they’re not really volunteers, so the next logical step is that Sunny can be thrown off the mountain. Interestingly, the white-faced women refuse to do this. I mean, they’re bad, but they’re not so bad that they’re going to throw a defenceless baby off a roof. Then they both resign. Quite an unexpected development, though one which I suspect will not end well for these two.

We even get a little bit of background into these two women. They’re sisters apparently, their home was burned down and their sibling was killed in that fire. Coincidence? I think not. We’ll probably never know anything else about them because they walk away and the story doesn’t follow them, but it’s a nice little glimpse into the world the stories are set in. It makes things feel a little bit deeper somehow.

But Olaf isn’t happy about being disobeyed so he grabs the casserole dish to dispose of Sunny himself. But it’s not Sunny in the casserole dish, she shows up at that moment, saying ‘I’m not a baby!’ as Olaf discovers the eggplant in the casserole dish. Sunny says ‘Babganoush!’ which means ‘I concocted an escape plan with the eggplant that turned out to be even handier than I thought.’

Olaf’s a bit miffed by this development but his cohorts point out than Sunny will probably make them something nice with the eggplant later on. I’m not so sure about that. Violet and Klaus try to point out that Olaf is obviously evil but Carmelita doesn’t care about that, she just wants to get on with being the False Spring Queen. This involves jamming a large pole into the ice which sets a crack in the ice forming. This is so not going to end well!

The scouts start dancing around the springpole whilst chanting the Snow Scout Alphabet Pledge. And at this point the bad man and woman pull out their whistles and whips and the eagles grab the edges of the net. The result is that all the snow scouts and Olaf’s henchpeople end up inside it. They’re all flown away with the bad man and woman who call back to Olaf that they’ll meet at the last safe place when Olaf has the sugar bowl. Oh, and the bad man and woman are planning to use their eagles to catch up with Hector and the other two Quagmire triplets. Things really are going from bad to worse!

So Olaf and Esme have to decide whether they want the fortune or the sugar bowl:

“That’s a difficult decision,” Esme said. “On one hand, it’s been enjoyable having an infant servant. But it would be a lot of fun to smash Klaus’s glasses and watch him bump into things.”

I’m obviously kind of evil but I do find this sort of funny.

A moment later Olaf and Esme are inviting Carmelita to join them and Carmelita is obviously seriously considering it. Quigley tries to dissuade her from going to the dark side but it’s fairly obvious which side Carmelita is going to go for. Esme is so keen to adopt Carmelita that she invents a little pledge all of her own to persuade her (despite Olaf’s reluctance to have a daughter):

“I think you’re adorable, beautiful, cute, dainty, eye-pleasing, flawless, gorgeous, harmonious, impeccable, jaw-droppingly adorable, keen, luscious, magnificent, nifty, obviously adorable, photogenic, quite adorable, ravishing, splendid, thin, undeformed, very adorable, well-proportioned, xylophone, yummy, and zestfully adorable,” Esme pledged, “every morning, every afternoon, every night, and all day long!”

Well, she definitely couldn’t say that Carmelita was ‘xenial’. But despite the ridiculousness of the pledge, Carmelita is sold.

There’s some discussion about whether or not the children are outnumbered by Olaf and his crew. Considering that his crew has now been reduced down to Esme and Carmelita, technically the Baudelaires and Quigley outnumber them, but they children know that they’re still being outnumbered by all the bad guys they’ve encountered. The bad guys might not be up here on the mountain with them, but they’re still out there in the world and they’re going to encounter them sooner or later.

Sunny says ‘Rosebud’ which means ‘In some situations, the location of a certain object can be much more important than being outnumbered’. And with that the four children hop onto the toboggan and take off down the slope. They know that Olaf is going to follow them, but he has a flat tyre so they’ve got a head start. Sunny announces ‘Overhear!’ meaning ‘Hotel Denouement!’ so at least they have some idea of where they should be heading.

And then we learn where we’ve seen Bruce before. He was one of the guys packing up Uncle Monty’s collection for the herpetological society. Now that I think about it I think I remember the mention of someone called Bruce back in that book. But there’s no knowing if he’s a good guy or a bad guy.

But things start going downhill here. Ironic, considering they’re already going downhill. It gets more downhill as the steering mechanism breaks. Sunny’s ‘Uh-oh!’ sums it up quite well, meaning ‘That doesn’t sound like good news’. It isn’t, because what’s at the bottom of the slope? Oh yes, the pit that they dug. That’s really looking like a bad idea right now, isn’t it?

They attempt to slow the sled down using their forked shoes but it’s not quite enough. Sunny asks ‘Bicuspid?’ meaning ‘Should I drag my teeth against the ice, too?’ so she goes for it but it makes no difference. She’s got no sticky substances to pour onto the ground to slow them down and nothing to use as a drag chute, but then she remembers the bread knife she’s been carrying around for the entire book. She sticks this into the crack that the springpole made and this widens the crack so they’re no longer sliding down the ice but are instead plunged into the rushing water. I’m not sure this is really an improvement on the situation.

It isn’t. The water separates with the Baudelaires going one way and Quigley going the other. He yells “Wait for me! Wait for me at –” as he disappears. His siblings have a habit of doing that. They should should the information first and then elaborate on it afterwards.

Violet is understandably distraught and Sunny tries to reassure her sister by saying ‘Intrepid’ meaning ‘Quigley Quagmire was brave and resourceful enough to survive the fire that destroyed his home, and I’m sure he’ll survive this, too.’ But it’s not so reassuring really because hiding in a hidden corridor during a fire isn’t quite the same as being swept away down a frozen river.

Violet’s hopeful that they might meet up with him further down the water but they have no idea if that’s likely. ‘Godot’ says Sunny, rather than referring to a play she means ‘We don’t know where to go, and we don’t know how to get there.’ Klaus runs through some of the things that they do know, like the fact that the volunteers are meeting at the Hotel Denouement on Thursday, which is something at least.

But there is still much that is unknown. Snicket tells us that some things are known, thankfully, like where the Baudelaires end up after their journey down the Stricken Stream. Though where they end up after this, we’re not going to find out today. For that we’ll have to wait until the next book.

The last picture of the book shows the moment that the Baudelaires are separated from Quigley Quagmire. We can see him in the distance with his commonplace book held up out of the water. Violet and Sunny are on the remains of toboggan and Violet is reaching out to Klaus who is still in the water. And in the background we’ve got our clue to the next book. There’s some mushrooms on the rocks behind them. I foresee mushrooms in our future.

And then we get the letter to the editor to build up to the next book. It’s handwritten and the ink has been been smudged and smeared by water. It’s hard to make out but the gist of it is that the next book will be The Grim Grotto.

We’ll take a little look at that later on today.


  1. My son hated the series but my daughter loved them! Thanks for the review x

    1. Thanks for stopping by.

      I agree that it's a bit of a 'marmite' series, people seem to either love them or hate them. I like that there's a lot in there to amuse adults as well as children. :-)


Let me know what you think. :-)