- Megan Bingham
This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form, and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse the book matches here.
The Bad Beginning (Book One in A Series of Unfortunate Events): This series chronicles the unfortunate lives of the Baudelaire children: Violet, 14; Klaus, 12; and the infant, Sunny. In Bad Beginning, their parents and possessions perish in a fire, and the orphans must use their talents to survive as their lives move from one disastrous event to another. Surrounded by dim-witted though well-meaning adults, the Baudelaires find themselves in the care of their evil relative, Count Olaf, a disreputable actor whose main concern is getting his hands on the children's fortune. (Library Journal)
In January 2017, the movie and television internet streaming channel Netflix, released A Series of Unfortunate Events, an eight episode series developed by Mark Hudis and Barry Sonnenfeld. It stars Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket, Malina Weissman as Violet Baudelaire, Louis Hynes as Klaus Baudelaire, K. Todd Freeman as Mr. Poe, and Presley Smith as Sunny Baudelaire. The first season follows the first four books in the series: The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, The Wide Window, and The Miserable Mill. The next season will continue with book five, The Austere Academy.
Rotten Tomatoes reports that 92% of critics have given the season a positive review based on 37 reviews, with an average score of 8.2/10. The site's consensus states: "Enjoyably dark—A Series of Unfortunate Events matches the source material's narrative as well as its tone, leaving viewers with a wonderfully weird, dry, gothic comedy." According to Metacritic, the series holds an average rating of 81, based on 21 reviews, which indicates "universal acclaim."¹
If you like The Bad Beginning, read the other twelve in the series:
If you enjoyed the TV and book series A Series of Unfortunate Events, you may enjoy these titles for kids, teens, and adults.
For Kids and Teens:
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (Book One)
Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is a millionaire, a genius--and, above all, a criminal mastermind. But even Artemis doesn't know what he's taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren't the fairies of bedtime stories; these fairies are armed and dangerous.
Artemis thinks he has them right where he wants them, but then they stop playing by the rules. (catalog summary)
The Beatrice Letters by Lemony Snicket
Presents a collection of correspondence between the elusive Lemony Snicket and the mysterious Beatrice. (catalog summary)
The House Called Awful End by Philip Ardagh (Book One)
When both of Eddie's parents catch a disease that makes them turn yellow, it's agreed he should go away and stay with relatives at their house, Awful End. Alas for Eddie, those relatives are Mad Uncle Jack and Even Madder Aunt Maud--and the journey to Awful End will take him to everywhere from St. Horrid's Hone for Grateful Orphans to an audience with The Empress of All China. (catalog summary)
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
Seventh-grader Georges adjusts to moving from a house to an apartment, his father's efforts to start a new business, his mother's extra shifts as a nurse, being picked on at school, and Safer, a boy who wants his help spying on another resident of their building. (catalog summary)
The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide (Book One)
When the Grace children go to stay at their Great Aunt Lucinda's worn Victorian house, they discover a field guide to fairies and other creatures and begin to have some unusual experiences. (catalog summary)
Three Times Lucky by Shelia Turnage
Washed ashore as a baby in tiny Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, Mo LoBeau, now eleven, and her best friend Dale turn detective when the amnesiac Colonel, owner of a café and co-parent of Mo with his cook, Miss Lana, seems implicated in a murder. (catalog summary)
Who Could That be at This Hour? by Lemony Snicket (Book One)
Thirteen-year-old Lemony Snicket begins his apprenticeship with S. Theodora Markson of the secretive V.F.D. in the tiny dot of a town called Stain'd By The Sea, where he helps investigate the theft of a statue. (catalog summary)
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
When her parents leave Willoughby Chase for a sea voyage, Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia are left in the cruel care of Miss Slighcarp. Together with Simon the Gooseboy, they make a daring escape, but they must find a way to wrest Willoughby Chase from Miss Slighcarp's evil clutches. (catalog summary)
All the Tea in China (A Novel : Which Tells How Carolus Mortdecai Van Cleef Set Out to Seek His Fortune in London Town, on the High Seas, in India, the Treaty Ports of China, and Even in Darkest Africa, and How He Found It, Predictably, in A Place Which as [i.e. Has] No Longitude and Precious Little Latitude) by Kyril Bonfiglioli
Inspired by a shotgun blast in the seat of his breeches, young Karli Van Cleef quits his native Holland to seek his fortune. He arrives in early Victorian London and soon he is turning a pretty profit. But Karli sees that true opportunity flowers in India's fields of opium poppies and the treaty ports of the China coast. So he takes a berth in an opium clipper hell-bent for the Indies. It is a journey beset with perils. Karli is confronted by the mountainous seas, high-piled plates of curry, and the ferocious penalties of the Articles of War. He survives the malice of the Boers, the hospitality of anthropophagi, and the horrors of Lancashire cooking. En route he acquires some interesting diseases, dangerous friends and enemies, a fortune, and a wife almost as good as new. (catalog summary)
And Here's the Kicker: Conversations With 21 Top Humor Writers on Their Craft by MIke Sacks
Suitable for aspiring humour writers and fans of comedy, this title discusses the comedy writing process, influences of humour writers from print, TV, and film, their likes and dislikes, and experiences in the industry. It provides interviews that are wide-ranging, funny and informative, and features some of the best names in the business. Features Lemony Snickett.
Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans
When Noel Bostock—aged ten, no family—is evacuated from London to escape the Nazi bombardment, he lands in a suburb northwest of the city with Vera Sedge a thirty-six-year-old widow drowning in debts and dependents. Always desperate for money, she's unscrupulous about how she gets it. Noel's mourning his godmother, Mattie, a former suffragette. Wise beyond his years and raised with a disdain for authority and an eclectic attitude toward education, he has little in common with other children, and even less with the impulsive Vee, who hurtles from one self-made crisis to the next. The war's provided unprecedented opportunities for making money, but what Vee needs and what she's never had is a cool head and the ability to make a plan. On her own, she's a disaster. With Noel, she's a team. Together they cook up a scheme. Crisscrossing the bombed suburbs of London, Vee starts to turn a profit and Noel begins to regain his interest in life. But there are plenty of other people making money off the war and some of them are dangerous. Noel may have been moved to safety, but he isn't actually safe at all. (catalog summary)
A Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery by Deanna Raybourn
London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria's golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry--and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime. But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth. (catalog summary)
The Highly Effective Detective: A Teddy Ruzak Novel by Richard Yancey
From the critically acclaimed author of Confessions of a Tax Collector and The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp comes The Highly Effective Detective—a hilarious and thrilling series debut featuring a lovable but bumbling private investigator. Meet Teddy Ruzak, the oversized, over-his-head P.I. whose first case begins with the hit-and-run killing of a gaggle of goslings. After his ailing mother dies, Teddy quits his job as a night watchman to fulfill his childhood dream of being a detective. With little planning and even less foresight, he hangs up his shingle and hires his favorite waitress from the local diner to be his Girl Friday. And his first case? Bringing to justice the thoughtless driver who mows down six baby geese. Not the most exciting assignment—until Teddy's "wild-goose chase" quickly evolves into an investigation of a vicious murder. (catalog summary)