Excerpt from The Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket, Brett Helquist, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Carnivorous Carnival

Book the Ninth (A Series of Unfortunate Events)

by Lemony Snicket, Brett Helquist

The Carnivorous Carnival
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2002, 304 pages
    Jan 2003, 286 pages

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Print Excerpt

'There's something wrapped around my left arm,' Klaus said, squirming around. 'It feels like it might be part of the turban Olaf wore when he disguised himself as Coach Genghis.'

'That's too thick,' Violet said. 'It needs to slip between two parts of the lock.'

'Semja!' Sunny said.

'That's my shoelace, Sunny,' Klaus said.

'We'll save that as a last resort,' Violet said. 'We can't have you tripping all over the place if we're going to escape. Wait, I think I found something underneath the spare tire.'

'What is it?'

'I don't know,' Violet said. 'It feels like a skinny cord with something round and flat at the end.'

'I bet it's a monocle,' Klaus said. 'You know, that funny eyepiece Olaf wore when he was pretending to be Gunther, the auctioneer.'

'I think you're right,' Violet said. 'Well, this monocle helped Olaf with his scheme, and now it's going to help us with ours. Sunny, try to move over a bit so I can see if this will work.'

Sunny squirmed over as far as she could, and Violet reached around her siblings and slipped the cord of Olaf's monocle around the lock of the trunk. The three children listened as Violet wiggled her invention around the latch, and after only a few seconds they heard a quiet click! and the door of the trunk swung open with a long, slow creeeak. As the cool air rushed in, the Baudelaires stayed absolutely still in case the noise of the trunk caught Olaf's attention, but apparently he and his assistants were too far away to hear, because after a few seconds the children could hear nothing but the chirping of the evening crickets and the faint barking of a dog.

The Baudelaires looked at one another, squinting in the dim light, and without another word Violet and Klaus climbed out of the trunk and then lifted their sister out into the night. The famous hinterlands sunset was just ending, and everything the children saw was bathed in dark blue, as if Count Olaf had driven them into the depths of the ocean. There was a large wooden sign with the words Caligari Carnival printed in old-fashioned script, along with a faded painting of a lion chasing a frightened little boy. Behind the sign was a small booth advertising tickets for sale, and a phone booth that gleamed in the blue light. Behind these two booths was an enormous roller coaster, a phrase which here means 'a series of small carts where people can sit and race up and down steep and frightening hills of tracks, for no discernible reason,' but it was clear, even in the fading light, that the roller coaster had not been used for quite some time, because the tracks and carts were overgrown with ivy and other winding plants, which made the carnival attraction look as if it were about to sink into the earth. Past the roller coaster was a row of enormous tents, shivering in the evening breeze like jellyfish, and alongside each tent was a caravan, which is a wheeled carriage used as a home by people who travel frequently. The caravans and tents all had different designs painted on the sides, but the Baudelaires knew at once which caravan was Madame Lulu's because it was decorated with an enormous eye. The eye matched the one tattooed on Count Olaf's left ankle, the one the Baudelaires had seen many times in their lives, and it made them shiver to think they could not escape it even in the hinterlands.

'Now that we're out of the trunk,' Klaus said, 'let's get out of the area. Olaf and his troupe could get back any minute.'

'But where are we going to go?' Violet asked. 'We're in the hinterlands. Olaf's comrade said there was no place to hide.'

'Well, we'll have to find one,' Klaus said. 'It can't be safe to hang around any place where Count Olaf is welcome.'

Text copyright 2002 by Lemony Snicket. Illustrations copyright 2002 by Brett Helquist. All rights reserved. Not to be used or reproduced in any matter whatsoever without written permission.

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