A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Miserable Mill (4)
Condition: New, Hardcover
Author: Lemony Snicket
Illustrator: Brett Helquist
The Miserable Mill is the fourth novel in the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. Mr. Poe sends the orphans to live with the owner of a lumber mill, who makes them work alongside the other lumberjacks. Things get worse as Count Olaf slips into the plot in another ghastly disguise.
The Miserable Mill begins with Sunny, Klaus and Violet Baudelaire traveling with Mr. Poe on a train heading for Paltryville, the location of the children's new home, the Lucky Smells Lumber mill. Along the way, the children see a building in the shape of an eye.
Upon arrival, the children learn that they will have to work at the mill, but as part of the deal, their new guardian, Sir (they call him Sir because his name was so long that nobody pronounces it right), will try to keep Count Olaf, their nemesis, away. They meet Sir's partner, Charles, who shows them the library, which contains three books, one about the history of the lumber mill, one about the town constitution, and one donated by Dr. Orwell, the local ophthalmologist, who lives in the eye shaped building.
Klaus is purposely tripped by the new foreman, Flacutono (an anagram of Count Olaf), breaking his glasses, and is sent to see Dr. Orwell. When Klaus returns, hours later, he acts very strangely, as if in a trance. The next day in the lumber mill, the foreman wakes Klaus, telling him to get to work, which Klaus does immediately, and does not even bother to put his shoes or socks on. Flacutono instructs Klaus to operate a stamping machine. Klaus causes an accident by dropping the machine on Phil, an optimistic coworker. The Foremen says an unfamiliar word, the other workers ask what it means and Klaus, who is suddenly back to normal, defines the word. Klaus explains that he doesn't remember what happened between breaking his glasses and waking up in the factory. Foreman Flacutono trips him again, once again causing his glasses to break. This time though, Violet and Sunny accompany Klaus to the doctor.
Together, they go to the eye shaped building. They knock on the door and Orwell opens it. She holds a cane in her hand. She is very pleasant, and tells Violet and Sunny to sit in the waiting room. She mentions "attracting flies with honey". Violet and Sunny wonder about this before finding Count Olaf disguised as Shirley, a female receptionist. Violet realizes that Dr. Orwell is the "honey" and that they have been the "flies". She also learns that Klaus has been (and is being) hypnotized by Orwell, who is in cahoots with Count Olaf. They leave with Klaus, who is once again in a trance.
When they return to the lumber mill, they find a note instructing them to see Sir. He tells them that if there is another accident, he'll place them under Shirley's care.
Violet and Sunny put Klaus to bed (he remains barefoot), and then go to the library. They read the book donated by Orwell, using the table of contents to find a chapter on hypnotism among the other chapters on eyes. Violet learns that Orwell's technique uses a command word to control the subject and an "unhypnotize" word. They then hear the lumber mill starting early, and rush to see what is happening.
They find Charles strapped to a log which Klaus is pushing through a buzz saw, and Foreman Flacutono giving orders. The girls move to stop them but see Klaus' bare feet, a clue that he has been hypnotised out of bed yet again. Violet learns the command word (Lucky), and orders Klaus to release Charles but Flacutono orders him to continue. Olaf and Orwell arrive and the latter orders Klaus to ignore his sisters. Violet remembers, and says, the word with which Phil unhypnotized Klaus (inordinate) just in time. Sunny and Orwell have a fight, with swords and teeth, and Orwell falls into the path of the buzz saw, and is killed. Violet is caught by Olaf and Flacutono. Klaus manages to set Charles free. About that time, Mr. Poe and Sir arrive, and the Baudelaires explain to them what has happened.
Olaf is locked in the library but escapes out the window. Sir relinquishes the Baudelaires from his care, to be sent to the boarding school Prufrock Preparatory School.
The series follows the adventures of three siblings, Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire, after their parents were killed in a fire at the family mansion. In The Bad Beginning, they briefly live with a friend of their parents, Mr. Poe, who is the person in charge of the Baudelaire fortune after the Baudelaire parents' deaths, before being sent to live with Count Olaf, whom Mr. Poe describes as either the siblings' "third cousin four times removed, or their fourth cousin three times removed". The siblings discover that he intends to get his hands on the Baudelaire fortune, which awaits Violet, the eldest child, when she turns eighteen. In the first seven books, Olaf, each time in different disguises, follows the children wherever they go so he can get closer to the orphans and steal their fortune. Their roles switch in the eighth through twelfth books, in which the orphans adopt disguises while on the run from the police after being framed by Count Olaf, disguised as Detective Dupin, for the murder of Count Omar (really Jacques Snicket). The Baudelaires routinely try to get help from Mr. Poe, but Poe is always either busy with work, oblivious to the danger Olaf poses, unaware that the disguised Olaf is not who he claims to be or simply thinks the Baudelaires are lying.
Each of the three siblings has a distinctive skill that often helps them during their adventures. Violet is always inventing new things to help them, Klaus is always finding out new information by reading books, and Sunny has extremely sharp teeth that can bite almost anything in two.  In later books, Sunny learns how to cook, as she begins to grow to the normal size for her teeth so cooking becomes her primary skill. Sunny originally spoke in single word utterances which are often a variety of incomplete sentences and some short word sentences as well. Their meaning is either disguised by being spelled phonetically (e.g., 'surchmi' in The Slippery Slope), backwards (e.g., 'edasurc' [crusade] in The Carnivorous Carnival) through cultural references (Sunny says: 'Matahari', followed by a definition of 'If I stay, I can spy on them and find out.'), or being written in other languages (e.g., Shalom or Sayonara), but eventually she begins to speak more in complete English sentences, her first possibly being "I'm not a baby" in The Slippery Slope, or "Like me" in The Vile Village.
Lemony Snicket, the author of the stories and the pseudonym of Daniel Handler, is actually a character himself on the periphery of the stories. He follows the Baudelaires, researching and recording their exploits. Bruce Butt noted in 2002 that in each book a letter from Snicket to his editor is included, presented as exciting updates on Snicket's research into the Baudelaire orphans, which Butt considered to be "the slyest aspect of the way this series has been ingeniously promoted". Over the course of the series, the Baudelaires learn some vague information about Snicket and possibly meet him briefly in The Wide Window and The Penultimate Peril.
- The Bad Beginning
- The Reptile Room
- The Wide Window
- The Miserable Mill
- The Austere Academy
- The Ersatz Elevator
- The Vile Village
- The Hostile Hospital
- The Carnivorous Carnival
- The Slippery Slope
- The Grim Grotto
- The Penultimate Peril
- The End
A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Miserable Mill (4)