The Reptile Room

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Reptile Room
The Reptile Room USA.PNG
American cover art
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
Publisher HarperCollins
Publication date
September 30, 1999
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 190
ISBN ISBN 0-06-440767-5 (first edition, hardback)
OCLC 41086597
Fic 21
LC Class PZ7.S6795 Re 1999
Preceded by The Bad Beginning
Followed by The Wide Window

The Reptile Room is the second book in the children's series A Series of Unfortunate Events, written by Daniel Handler under the pseudonym Lemony Snicket. The book tells the story of the Baudelaire orphans, as they are sent to live with a distant relative named Montgomery Montgomery. The villainous Count Olaf arrives in an attempt to steal the children's inheritance, killing their guardian but failing to steal the fortune.


The three Baudelaire orphans have been placed under the care of their distant relative Dr. Montgomery Montgomery. "Uncle Monty", as he prefers to be called, is a herpetologist and a short, chubby man with a round, red face. The children immediately like him; he lets them each choose their own bedroom and informs them that they are going to accompany him on a trip to Peru to study snakes.

The children are fascinated by the many snakes in the "Reptile Room", a giant hall in which Monty's reptile collection is stored. They meet the Incredibly Deadly Viper, a friendly snake with a misleading name, which Uncle Monty recently discovered. The three children are each given jobs in the Reptile Room: Violet is given the job of inventing traps for new snakes found in Peru, Klaus is told to read books on snakes to help advise Uncle Monty, and Sunny's job is to bite ropes into usable pieces.

When Stephano, the new assistant, arrives, the children realize that he is Count Olaf in disguise. Count Olaf is a villain who the children used to live with, until he was caught trying to steal the fortune left behind by their parents. They try to warn Uncle Monty, but Stephano threatens them with violence. They manage to talk to Monty alone the day before their trip to Peru, but Monty is convinced that Stephano is a spy trying to steal information from his research and fails to understand their claims that Stephano is Olaf. He tears up Stephano's ticket to Peru. The following morning, the Baudelaires discover Monty's dead body in the Reptile Room.

Stephano still intends to take the children to Peru, where he aims to find a way to get his hands on their fortune. However, as they are leaving the estate, Stephano's car crashes in Mr. Poe's car. They return to the house, where Poe and Stephano discuss what to do with the children. Mr. Poe refuses to believe the children when they say Stephano is Count Olaf in disguise, as Stephano lacks a tattoo of an eye on his ankle. Dr. Lucafont arrives and performs an autopsy, claiming Monty was killed by the Mamba du Mal.

Klaus and Sunny stage a diversion in which the Incredibly Deadly Viper pretends to attack Sunny to allow Violet time to find and open Stephano's suitcase. Stephano, in an attempt at showing off, contradicts his story, making Mr. Poe suspicious. Violet shows up and presents Mr. Poe with evidence that Stephano murdered Monty, and that Stephano used powder to cover up his tattoo. Mr. Poe rubs his handkerchief on Stephano's ankle, revealing the eye tattoo, but before he can be arrested, Count Olaf and his associate Dr. Lucafont (revealed to be the hook-handed man, one of Olaf's troupe members) escape. A man named Bruce arrives to dismantle Monty's reptile collection.

Critical reception[edit]

Publishers Weekly said Snicket "uses formal, Latinate language and intrusive commentary to hilarious effect" and complimented Helquist's "exquisitely detailed drawings of Gothic gargoyles and mischievous eyes", which were said to "echo the contents of this elegantly designed hardcover".[1]

Other editions[edit]


The audiobook version of "The Reptile Room" was read by Tim Curry. A review at AudioFile gave the audiobook an "Earphones Award", calling it "fabulously funny" and complimenting Curry's "enormous talents".[2]

The Reptile Room; or, Murder![edit]

A Series of Unfortunate Events No.2: The Reptile Room; or, Murder! is a paperback rerelease of The Reptile Room, designed to mimic Victorian penny dreadfuls.[3] It was released on May 8, 2007.[4] The book features a new full-colour cover, seven new illustrations, and the second part of a serial supplement entitled The Cornucopian Cavalcade, which includes the second part of a 13-part comic by Michael Kupperman entitled The Spoily Brats, an advice column written by Lemony Snicket, and the second part of a story by Stephen Leacock entitled A Psychic Pstory of the Psupernatural, along with other novelty additions.[5][6]


See also[edit]