The Hostile Hospital

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The Hostile Hospital
Hostile hospital.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
Publisher HarperCollins
Publication date
September 2001
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 255
ISBN 0-06-175720-9
Preceded by The Vile Village
Followed by The Carnivorous Carnival

The Hostile Hospital is the eighth novel in the children's novel series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket.


The book begins where The Vile Village left off, with the three Baudelaire children (Violet, Klaus, and Sunny) escaping the Village of Fowl Devotees. Soon, however, they encounter a general store called Last Chance General Store, and are kindly taken in by the shopkeeper (Milt), who lets them send a telegram to Mr. Poe. A man delivering newspapers (Lou) then arrives and gives The Daily Punctilio newspapers to Milt, who recognizes the picture of the three Baudelaires (credited as the murderers of Count Olaf) immediately. Both Milt and Lou pursue the children through the store and are about to catch them when a van suddenly pulls up, allowing the Baudelaires to jump in and escape.

Inside the van, the children meet a group of singers called the Volunteers Fighting Disease, who sing to sick people at Heimlich Hospital, which is divided in half, one side finished, one side unfinished, to lift their spirits. Since the volunteers never read The Daily Punctilio (they find it too depressing), the children decide it is safe to travel with them, and head to the hospital. Once they arrive, Babs (a voice on the intercom who is the Director of Human Resources) says that three volunteers are needed to work in the Library of Records. The children are eager to do the job as they wish to find the answers to the mysteries surrounding them, so they head to Babs' office, where they are given the job. Luckily, Babs does not even see them because she is a voice on a small intercom speaker (children should be seen and not heard, and by her logic, adults should be heard and not seen).

In the Library of Records, the children meet Hal, the keeper of the library, and help him file papers. Since they have nowhere to sleep, the Baudelaires decide to trick Hal to get the keys for the Library of Records room. Reviewing the notes of the Quagmires, they discover the existence of the Snicket File and successfully retrieve the thirteenth page from the Library of Records. On it there is a picture of their parents, Jacques Snicket, and another man whom they do not recognize. Alongside the photograph reads: Because of the evidence discussed on page 9, experts now suspect that there may in fact be one survivor of the fire, but the survivor's whereabouts are unknown. At that moment, however, Esmé Squalor (Count Olaf's evil girlfriend) appears and starts kissing Count Olaf. Klaus and Sunny manage to escape up a chute with the page, but Violet is too big to go through and is captured.

Klaus and Sunny discover that Mattathias (Count Olaf) and his associates (who have disposed of Babs, as part of Olaf's disguise) are going to perform a craniectomy on Violet, and hurry and find her. Retrieving the list of patients from the singing volunteers, the two Baudelaires hide in a closet and try to find Violet, but she is not on the list. Thinking of the Quagmires' notes, they realize that Mattathias is using anagrams for his false names (Al Funcoot, Flacutono and O. Lucafont, some previous names, being anagrams of Count Olaf), and try to find Laura V. Bleediotie, who is really Violet. Masquerading as Dr. Tocuna and Nurse Flo (the two white-faced women), Klaus and Sunny go into contact with the hook-handed man (as O. Lucafont) and the bald man (as Flacutono) and find Violet lying unconscious on a hospital gurney, wearing an ugly surgical gown. The party heads to the operating theater, where Klaus and Sunny stall the cranioectomy by describing the past of the knife. Hal appears at that moment and accuses them of setting fire to the Library of Records, while Esme turns up with the real Dr. Tocuna and Nurse Flo and exposes them. With the group about to capture them, Klaus and Sunny escape on the gurney, while the unconscious Violet starts to wake up. After racing around the hospital looking for an escape, the Baudelaires manage to trap the associate who looks like neither a man or a woman in a closet. They then decide to hide inside another closet, while the fire in the hospital spreads. They then jump out of the window using an elastic belt that Violet improvised and hide in Count Olaf's trunk. Count Olaf then gets in the car with his companions and drives away, the orphans still in the back.


  • The last picture includes a fortune teller's ball in Count Olaf's trunk, foreshadowing The Carnivorous Carnival.
  • There is a flyer in Count Olaf's trunk advertising the Caligari carnival.

Cultural references and literary allusions[edit]

  • Heimlich Hospital is a reference to Henry Heimlich, an American physician best known for the Heimlich Maneuver.
  • In an illustration, one of the Volunteers Fighting Disease plays a guitar with the inscription "This Volunteer fights disease". This is an allusion to Woody Guthrie, who inscribed "This machine kills fascists" on his instrument.
  • In an aside the narrator refers to his friend, Mr. Sirin, who is a lepidopterist. "Sirin" was an early pseudonym of Vladimir Nabokov, a famous Russian-American author and noted lepidopterist.
  • When Sunny sees the assistant of Count Olaf, who looks not like a woman nor man, she babbles " Orlando", which is a book by Virginia Woolf. This book is about a man who has metamorphosed into a woman.
  • The patients at Heimlich Hospital present a wealth of allusions to famous literature, characters and authors:


See also[edit]