The Miserable Mill

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The Miserable Mill
The Miserable Mill USA.PNG
AuthorLemony Snicket (pen name of Daniel Handler)
IllustratorBrett Helquist
Cover artistBrett Helquist
CountryUnited States
SeriesA Series of Unfortunate Events
GenreGothic fiction
Absurdist fiction
Publication date
April 15, 2000
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Preceded byThe Wide Window 
Followed byThe Austere Academy 

The Miserable Mill is the fourth novel of the children's novel series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. In this novel, the Baudelaire orphans live with the owner of Lucky Smells Lumber Mill. The book was published on April 15, 2000, by HarperCollins and illustrated by Brett Helquist.[1][2]

Plot summary[edit]

Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire are traveling on a train heading for Paltryville, the location of the children's new home, the Lucky Smells Lumbermill.

Upon arrival, the children learn that they will have to work at the mill, but as part of the deal, their new guardian, Sir (they call him Sir because his name is so long that nobody pronounces it right), will try to keep Count Olaf, their nemesis, away. They meet Sir's more sympathetic partner, Charles, who shows them the library, which contains three books, one about the history of the lumbermill, one about the town constitution, and one donated by Dr. Georgina Orwell, the local optometrist, who lives in an eye-shaped building, which also resembles, suspiciously, the tattoo on their nemesis, Count Olaf's, ankle.

Klaus breaks his own glasses when he is purposely tripped by the new foreman, Flacutono, and is sent to see Dr. Orwell. When Klaus returns from the optometrist, hours later, he acts strangely, as if in a trance. The next day in the lumbermill, Flacutono instructs Klaus to operate a stamping machine. Klaus causes an accident by dropping the machine on Phil, an optimistic coworker. Flacutono exclaims that the machine "cost an inordinate amount of money". The other workers ask what the unfamiliar word means and Klaus defines the word. Klaus explains that he doesn't remember what happened between when he broke his glasses and waking up in the mill. Foreman Flacutono trips him again, once again causing his glasses to break. This time though, Violet and Sunny accompany Klaus to Dr. Orwell's office.

Together, they arrive at the eye-shaped building they saw on their arrival to Lucky Smells. Dr. Orwell, seemingly friendly, lets them in, and tells Violet and Sunny to sit in the waiting room. Violet and Sunny realize that Count Olaf is disguised as Shirley, a receptionist and that Klaus has been (and is being) hypnotized by Orwell, who is in cahoots with Olaf. They leave with Klaus, who is once again in a trance, and calls Violet "Veronica." When they return to the lumbermill, they find a memo from Sir informing them that if there is another accident, he'll place them under Shirley's care.

Violet and Sunny put Klaus to bed, and go to the mill's library. Violet reads the book donated by Orwell, a difficult task given her lack of vocabulary compared to the book's usage of difficult words, and learns that Orwell's technique uses a command word to control the subject and an "unhypnotize" word. They then hear the lumbermill starting early, and rush to see what is happening. They find Charles strapped to a log which Klaus is pushing through a buzz saw, and Foreman Flacutono giving orders. The girls notice Klaus' bare feet, a clue that he has been hypnotized out of bed yet again. Shirley and Orwell arrive and the latter orders Klaus to ignore his sisters. Violet realizes the release word ("inordinate") just in time. Violet is caught by Shirley and Flacutono, but Klaus manages to set Charles free by trying to invent a fishing rod. Sunny and Orwell due, with Orwell's sword and Sunny's teeth; as Mr. Poe and Sir unexpectedly enter the room, Orwell steps back in surprise, into the path of the buzz saw, and dies.

Count Olaf is locked in the library but escapes out the window with Foreman Flacutono, who is revealed to be the bald man with the long nose in disguise. Sir relinquishes the Baudelaires, making the Baudelaires once more under nobody's care.


In the last picture of The Miserable Mill, it is included a foreshadowing of the sequel, which is two students (a boy and a girl) preparing to board in a school bus, clearly a reference to Duncan and Isadora Quagmire, and to all the events of the next book: The Austere Academy the fifth book

References in book[edit]

Whilst describing hypnosis, it is said "A British author was hypnotised with the word Bloomsbury and wrote several books". This is a possible reference to J. K. Rowling and the acceptance of her debut novel from Bloomsbury Publishing.[according to whom?]



The book was adapted into the seventh and eighth episodes of the first season of the television series adaptation produced by Netflix.[3] The episode is fairly accurate to the book, with some scenes and characters changed, such as "Flacutono" being the Hook-Handed Man in the TV series as opposed to the Bald Man in the book. The sword fight between Dr. Orwell and Sunny is removed, and as a result, Dr. Orwell dies by getting thrown into the furnace instead of being cut in half by the buzzsaw. Additionally, there are major differences with the mill and the town; the town was not burned down in the book, and the rest of the staff was not hypnotized.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sullivan, Michael (2003). Connecting Boys with Books: What Libraries Can Do, Volume 1 p. 42. American Library Association. ISBN 978-0-8389-0849-5.
  2. ^ Donald, Bridget (May 2000). "The Miserable Mill: The Fourth in a Series of Unfortunate Events". Quill & Quire. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  3. ^ Handlen, Zack (January 25, 2017). "A Series Of Unfortunate Events goes to a lumber mill and loses the forest for the trees". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 8, 2018.

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