My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This series just keeps getting better.
By remaining in Stain’d-by-the-Sea we’re allowed to follow Snicket’s cracking of a new case while at the same time reinforcing his ties with the cast of characters and finding out more about the overarching mystery of Hangfire and the Bombinating Beast. This makes ATWQ somewhat more palatable and less frustrating for those (mostly adults, at least in my experience) who couldn’t stand the constant loss of friends and change of scenery of the ASOUE books.
It also fits thematically with the story: the Baudelaires were unwilling victims of the events, forced to rely only on their wits, standing on the sidelines of a much bigger story they didn’t know much of until the very end; Snicket, on the other hand, is a trained (if young) agent with a clear goal, and so is better adjusted to deal with being buffeted around by the events – if not any less dejected by things he cannot change.
Like the previous book, When Did You See Her Last is littered with witty banter, astute plays on words, and literary references which one might or might not get (I only recognized a few). Unlike the previous, the case to be solved is luckily less of a mcguffin and more of an actual case, if a straightforward one.
And just what could that mysterious object that Snicket’s sister is so intent on retrieving? I wonder if it has anything to do with sugar…