The Austere Academy

Author: Lemony Snicket
Series: A Series Of Unfortunate Events, Book 5
Publisher: Harper Collins
Star Rating: 4/5
Date Read: August 12th, 2014
Read Count: 2
The woeful stories of the Baudelaire children continue in book five, The Austere Academy, when the siblings are placed in boarding school at Prufrock Prep. Violin playing Vice Principal Nero promises his advanced computer will keep Count Olaf why, even though the children don’t understand how it possibly could, while Violet and Klaus attend classes and Sunny works as Nero’s administrative secretary.

Nero is one of the more insufferable of the children’s long line of guardians. Caring for no one but himself, he just wants to play the violin and isn’t interested in the orphans that have come into his care unless they break his rules, such as to not enter the administration building, or are absent from his 6 hour long violin recitals. Doling out punishments such as buying him candy and eating meals without silverware, it’s a wonder Nero became a vice principal at all! But the children are used to unreasonable adults so when Count Olaf turns up this time, they put their heads together with their new friends, the Quagmire triplets minus one who are also orphans, to come up with a plan without alerting Count Olaf that they know it’s him.

It is interesting to see the interactions of the Baudelaires with other children, which has been missing from the series until now. The Baudelaires find they are not the only ones who have lived such an unfortunate lives and open theirselves up to friendships, which was a lovely thing to read however does lull the reader into a false sense of security, even though Snicket advises against it! The introduction of the Quagmires is accompanied by a new storyline other than just Count Olaf’s pursuit of the Baudelaire fortune while they are shunted from guardian to guardian.

By this time, the Baudelaires know that adults are not going to be helpful in their situation, having been let down by them too many times before. They are starting to smarten up, even though they were already intelligent for children so young. I am hoping to see their wits improve as this series progresses. We are almost halfway through the series and I’m ready for a change up. Although who knows how long it will be before I pick them up again, I will finish them eventually!


  1. The context behind this series is actually so fascinating all about the classes and the rebuilding of normality after the World Wars and the Depression. I read this series a few times when I was a kid and only now that I’m in high school do I see links and realise how clever the books actually are. The research is fascinating and if you like history of the 20th century and so on I highly recommend doing some research into the themes to understand them more. 🙂 Glad you enjoy it! I have seen a lot of reviews on it from people who don’t understand context and the writing style and the parallel story.
    After number 6 things start to get interesting, and that’s where the whole idea of the repetition of life and the meaninglessness of it came into the series. Hope this inspires you a little!

    • I can’t remember when I stopped reading these books, but I don’t know how to ends so I’m trying to avoid reading spoilers but the parallels to the story and the deeper meanings are so fascinating. It is far more than just a children’s book series and as I’ve gotten older I read them with a different perspective than I did the first time around. I can feel the change in the story in this book and so I’m looking forward to where it goes from here. I can see how the repetition may frustrate people but I feel like I understand what it’s getting at so that’s good!
      Thank you for your comment!

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