As I've said before Lemony Snicket is the Douglas Adams of children's literature, with a little Monty Python's Flying Circus thrown in. (Didn't Douglas Adams help write some of the Monty Python skits?) This book has my favorite surreal quote so far.
Miracles are like meatballs, because nobody can exactly agree what they are made of, where they come from, or how often they should appear. Some people say that a sunrise is a miracle, because it is somewhat mysterious and often very beautiful, but other people say it is simply a fact of life, because it happens every day and far too early in the morning. Some people say that a telephone is a miracle, because it sometimes seems wondrous that you can talk with somebody who is thousands of miles away, and other people say it is simply a manufactured device fashioned out of metal parts, electronic circuitry, and wires that are very easily cut. And some people say that sneaking out of a hotel is a miracle, particularly if the lobby is swarming with policemen, and other people say it is simply a fact of life, because it happens every day and far too early in the morning. So you might think that there are so many miracles in the world that you can scarcely count them, or that there are so few that they're scarcely worth mentioning, depending on whether you spend your mornings gazing at a beautiful sunset or lowering yourself into a back alley with a rope fashioned out of matching towels.
At that is just a small example of some of the humor you will find in this book. As for the story, well in this one The Baudelaires, having escaped the Hostile Hospital in the trunk of Count Olaf's car, find themselves in a carnival in which the head of the carnival, Madame Lulu, is a fortune teller. The orphans find out that she is the one who has been telling Count Olaf where the orphans are each time they move. This time the orphans and Count Olaf find out that one of the orphans parents may still be alive. So they must consult the fortune teller. In order to stay in the carnival the orphans disguise themselves as freaks and get a job on the freak show. Klaus and Violet become Beverly and Elliot, the 2 headed freak, and Sunny becomes Chabo the wolf baby (half wolf/half human). Once they get the job as freaks the orphans learn that the carnival is losing money. Count Olaf now steps in and gives as a gift to Madame Lulu several lions. The lions are to become part of the show in which the freaks will be fed to the lions, because everyone loves to watch violence and sloppy eating.
In order to escape from being thrown into the pits the Baudelaires must use their talents as inventor, researcher and biter. They also find they may have help from Madame Lulu. But I won't give too much away. After all, that's where the fun is.
But I will tell you that 2 folks will get eaten by the lions, Count Olaf leaves with the orphans (Sunny held in his arms like a watermelon, growls in the disguise of Chabo) and it doesn't look well for the orphans.