The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket

Happy Tuesday! Tuesdays here on are for A Series of Unfortunate Events comparisons. I read the book and then compare it to the corresponding episodes of the Netflix Original Series. If you are new here welcome! And you can catch up on the first four (The Bad BeginningThe Reptile RoomThe Wide Windowand The Miserable Mill) by clicking on each name. Today’s comparison is exciting because we are into season 2 of the show and a lot more action takes place in the book. I also feel like the story really starts to move along.


The list of guardians for Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire has run out and the children are now attending Prufrock Prep Boarding School. When I hear boarding school I think of Hogwarts, but Prufrock Prep is nothing like Hogwarts. The students attend classes seven days a week, are absurdly punished for different infractions, and must attend a violin concert by the vice principal every evening for six hours. Like most schools there is also a bully and this one is also arrogant and annoying. Carmelita Spatz who many people in the books can’t stand and mostly just try to ignore. Sunny is not old enough to attend classes so she works as Vice Principal Nero’s secretary. And the orphans have to sleep in a metal shack instead of the dorms with the other students.

The only solace the Baudelaire’s find is in their newfound friends, Duncan and Isadora Quagmire, two of three triplets and the only surviving members of the Quagmire family who also have a large fortune.

Soon enough Count Olaf makes an appearance. This time he’s a turban wearing gym teacher who decides the Baudelaire’s must run laps all night, every night. The lack of sleep makes them all fall asleep during the day. As a result the children are faced with a huge exam and if they fail they will be expelled. They can’t be in two places at once and have to choose between running laps and studying all night.

Isadora and Duncan offer to disguise themselves as the Baudelaires and run laps so the Baudelaires can prepare for the exam. While they are tired they are prepared as well as they can be the next morning. Violet and Klaus answer all of the questions correctly. Sunny also succeeds by performing her secretarial duties perfectly.

At the end they try to reveal the gym teacher for who he really is by removing one of his gym shoes and unravelling the turban. But once again he escapes. And this time he’s kidnapped the Quagmires. The good news is Duncan is able to tell the Baudelaires to look for VFD before the car is too far away.

3 Big Differences

  1. There is no librarian to help the Baudelaires in the book. Which is too bad because I really enjoyed her character. It’s also a bit different because there is usually an adult who tries to help the children, but in this book the Quagmires fill that role.
  2. The big exam is a much larger production in the Netflix Original Series. It takes place in front of the entire school instead of outside the little tin shack.
  3. Carmelita and many of the other children at the school sing a chant of “Cake sniffing orphans in the orphan shack” in both formats and it is such a strange saying. There is no explanation of where that comes from in the book. In the Netflix Orignal Series however, we see Carmelita sneak into the kitchen and shove her nose into a cake and sniff it. Again so weird, but a nice touch the show added.


This book gets 3 gold stars. The action is finally starting to pickup. We meet the Quagmires and now must try to save them from Count Olaf. And finally there is a mention of VFD! So at last that part of the story line is coming into play. I can’t wait for next week and The Ersatz Elevator.

Until then, happy reading!

-The Viking’s Wife

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