The Grim Grotto

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The Grim Grotto
Grimgrotto.jpg
Author Lemony Snicket (pen name of Daniel Handler)
Illustrator Brett Helquist
Cover artist Brett Helquist
Country United States
Language English
Series A Series of Unfortunate Events
Genre Gothic fiction
Absurdist fiction
Steampunk
Mystery
Publisher HarperCollins
Publication date
September 21, 2004
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 323
ISBN 0-06-441014-5
OCLC 55681958
Preceded by The Slippery Slope
Followed by The Penultimate Peril

The Grim Grotto is the eleventh novel in the children's novel series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket.

Plot[edit]

The Baudelaires manage to drift along the river after being separated from Quigley, they stumble along the submarine "Queequeg" in which they are welcomed by an energetic Captain Widdershins, whose motto is to never hesitate on anything, and his daughter Fiona, an aspiring mycologist. They are also welcomed the ship's cook, Phil, the Baudelaire's optimistic past fellow worker at the Lucky Smells Lumbermill. The Baudelaires discover that the crew of the Queequeg are searching for the mysterious sugar bowl.

Klaus examined the tidal charts to estimate the location of the sugar bowl relative to the water cycle. He suspects it to be in the Gorgonian Grotto. An octopus-shaped submarine, captained by Count Olaf, appears on the Queequeg's sonar, but it is driven off by a mysterious ship which appears only as a question mark on the radar screen.

Fiona then looks in her mycological textbooks to research the Gorgonian Grotto. It is a cone-shaped cave which houses a rare species of poisonous mushroom. They wax and wane periodically, but when the mushrooms are waxing, they are extremely deadly. The grotto is remote enough that it can quarantine the Medusoid Mycelium from the outside world. Fiona suspects there may be an antidote to the poisonous effects of the fungus. Over dinner, the Baudelaire's discuss everything that they have learned from their journey so far. Widdershins mentions the Snicket siblings, who fought on the side of good. Jacques Snicket, whom the children saw murdered in the Village of Fowl Devotees, was a researcher similar to Klaus; Kit Snicket, who helped build the Queequeg; and before Widdershins mentions the third Snicket Sibling, Fiona interrupts him, wanting to know about the VFD Headquarters the children had been to.

When the submarine arrives at the Grotto, Fiona, Klaus, Violet and Sunny are sent in. Inside it is a sandy beach scattered with many items that have washed ashore. Then they find a narrow room with a tiled floor and walls with three lamps bearing the letters "V", "F" and "D". Only the first two are lit up, so they assume the letter on the third one was not visible.

Whilst they search the beach for the sugar bowl, the Medusoid Mycelium suddenly wax, springing up from the beach and the tiled floor and walls - and the children retreat to the narrow room where the spore does not appear. While they are waiting, the children occupy themselves by continuing to investigate the knick-knacks lying around the cave, some of which seem to be connected to the V.F.D. including a newspaper article, a book of poetry and a personal letter. Sunny also picks up some food to prepare a meal for them all, including a tin of wasabi sauce.

On returning to the submarine, they discover that Widdershins and Phil have vanished without a trace. They also discover that a spore of the mushroom has infiltrated Sunny's helmet while in the grotto. Fiona stops Klaus from opening the helmet, insisting that Sunny must remain isolated in the helmet for all their safety until she can find an antidote. Just as the ship starts up, Olaf's submarine engulfs it, capturing the children. The orphans enter Olaf's ship, finds out that it is powered through the labor of the captured Snow Scouts, and are taken to the brig where they are interrogated by the hook-handed man, who is revealed to be Fiona's brother - Fernald. Fiona begs him to help them return to the Queequeg, for Sunny's sake, and Fernald agrees on the condition that they take him along.

Back on the Queequeg, Klaus and Violet search for a cure for Sunny and with the help of V.F.D. couplets, realize that the antidote is horseradish. They search for horseradish, but find none; Sunny manages to gasp one word, wasabi, and her siblings give her some of the condiment she brought back from the cave.

While Sunny has a short nap, the telegram machine produces a Voluntary Factual Dispatch from Quigley Quagmire, The Baudelaires are needed at a certain coded location the next day, just two days before the V.F.D. meeting at the Hotel Denouement. Klaus decodes the first poem by Lewis Carroll: they will be met at Briny Beach. As Violet begins decoding the second, based on T.S. Elliott's poem "The Waste Land", they are discovered by Olaf and his accomplices. Olaf announces triumphantly that they are just minutes from the Hotel Denouement and Fiona has joined his team to be with Fernald. The Baudelaires are to return to the brig. Shortly after, on the radar, the mysterious question mark ship reappears on the radar; Olaf, who clearly recognizes the ship, orders everyone to battle stations to prepare for flight. Fiona, knowing that she has made the wrong decision, allows the Baudelaires to escape in the Queequeg. Sunny fixes the huge hole that Olaf created on the submarine using an enormous ball of gum and they eventually manage to use it again.

The next day they arrive on Briny Beach - back where all of their troubles began. Surprisingly, Mr. Poe emerges from the fog. He received a message from the mysterious J.S. - whom he assumes is The Daily Punctilio's reporter Geraldine Julienne - that he had to meet them at the beach. He tells the children to come with him to the police station to resolve all of their troubles. Violet, however, has decoded Quigley's message and has concluded that a taxi will be at the beach for them, and she sees it in the distance.

They bid farewell to Mr Poe and arrive at the taxi to find a woman unknown to them at the wheel. She reveals herself to be Kit Snicket, so the children climb into the taxi and leave, ending the book with their fortune to their favor for the first time.

Characters[edit]

Violet, Klaus, Sunny and Count Olaf return in this book, as in all previous books. Esme Squalor, Carmelita Spats and Mr. Poe also appear in this book. The book marks the only appearances of Captain Widdershins and Fiona, the final appearances of the hook-handed man and Phil, and the debut of Kit Snicket.

Foreshadowing[edit]

There are two references to The Penultimate Peril:

  • On the last picture, there is a concierge's cap on the beach.
  • Sunny says etartsigam which is magistrate backwards, possibly signifying the presence of two villains on Justice Strauss's jury.

Cultural references and literary allusions[edit]

Translations[edit]

See also[edit]