The Slippery Slope

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The Slippery Slope (by Lemony Snicket)
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 23, 2003
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 337
ISBN 0-06-441013-7
OCLC 52602720
Fic 22
LC Class PZ7.S6795 Sl 2003
Preceded by The Carnivorous Carnival
Followed by The Grim Grotto

The Slippery Slope is the tenth novel in the children's novel series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. It was illustrated by Brett Helquist and released on September 23, 2003. In the novel, Violet and Klaus Baudelaire make their way up the Mortmain Mountain to rescue their sister Sunny from Count Olaf and his troupe. They meet Quigley Quagmire, a character who they thought to be dead, and visit the headquarters of a mysterious organization called "V.F.D." They are reunited with Sunny and manage to escape from Olaf. The book has received positive reviews and been translated into several different languages.


The book starts where The Carnivorous Carnival left off. Klaus Baudelaire and Violet are rolling down a steep mountainside in an out-of control caravan, while Sunny Baudelaire is held captive by Count Olaf and his associates/henchmen. Violet devises a brake for the caravan by using the hammocks as a drag chute and spreading sticky foods on the wheels. The two siblings travel up the mountain, discovering that vicious Snow Gnats have followed them. They take shelter from the insects in a cave, discovering that it is occupied by a troupe of Snow Scouts. Carmelita Spats, the children's rival from The Austere Academy, is one of the Snow Scouts, along with her Uncle Bruce (the man who collected Uncle Monty's reptiles) and a boy wearing a sweater, who seems to possess knowledge of V.F.D. Bruce and the Snow Scouts, except for Carmelita, welcome the Baudelaires to stay with them. During the night, the boy in the sweater talks to them and leads them up the natural chimney (also known as a Vertical Flame Diversion) to the V.F.D. headquarters.

Meanwhile, Olaf, his associates, and Sunny are on the peak of Mount Fraught, the tallest mountain in the region. The adults are cruel to Sunny (though the two white-faced women shows her some sympathy and appreciation), forcing her to sleep in a casserole dish and cook them breakfast the next morning, which she impressively accomplishes despite the lack of ingredients. Olaf insists that what she has prepared is disgusting and orders the Hook-Handed Man to fetch salmon from the nearby stream. Two people, a woman with hair but no beard and a man with a beard but no hair arrive, and announce that they have successfully burned down the V.F.D. headquarters. They also give Count Olaf the first twelve pages of the Snicket File. The man gives Esmé a green cigarette which is actually a Verdant Flammable Device, a device used by V.F.D. to signal in emergencies by lighting it on fire and sending green smoke into the air. Esmé immediately says that they are very "in". Sunny notices Esmé Squalor's Verdant Flammable Device and uses one to signal her siblings under the pretext of smoking the just-caught salmon for Olaf and his evil associates.

Violet, Klaus, and the boy arrive at the V.F.D. headquarters to find it has burnt down. The boy reveals himself to be Quigley Quagmire, whom the children believed to be dead. Violet, Klaus, and Quigley see, rising from the cliff, the plume of green smoke being emitted from Sunny's Verdant Flammable Device. Violet invents an ice-climbing device from a ukulele and forks, which Quigley and she use to climb the mountain, while Klaus stays at the headquarters to see if there are any clues or evidence that can be used to find more about V.F.D., who burned it down, etc. At one point, Violet and Quigley stop for a rest and share a tender moment in the sunset. When the two reach the top of the mountain, they immediately spot Olaf, his henchmen, and Sunny. Violet introduces Sunny to Quigley, and wants Sunny to return with them. But, Sunny refuses, telling her sister that she can spy on Olaf and learn useful information. In the end, Violet reluctantly agrees.

Violet and Quigley travel down the mountain again. Fortunately, Klaus has figured out a lot about V.F.D. including the fact that one of their unnamed allies managed to throw a very important sugar bowl out of the headquarters' window and into the river, and hatches a plan to lure Esmé to them and use her to bait Olaf into giving Sunny back. They dig a pit and light a Verdant Flammable Device next to it. Esmé sees some green smoke at the bottom of the slope. She goes down it, thinking the smoke is coming from the "in" cigarettes. The children realize that two wrongs don't equal a right and that there is a better way to rescue Sunny than kidnapping Esmé. When she reaches the bottom, she runs into three masked strangers (the Baudelaires and Quigley), and they help her climb back up the slope, hoping to somehow force Count Olaf to give up Sunny.

Claiming to be Volunteers, the three demand Sunny's return. Olaf refuses, until Violet pretends to know the location of a missing sugar bowl (which is mysteriously important to Olaf and his group). Olaf barters for the dish, but the Snow Scouts reach the peak. Klaus, Violet, and Quigley take off their masks to convince the scouts to run. The scouts, apart from Carmelita Spats, and several of Count Olaf's associates are caught in a net in a plot to recruit the children to Count Olaf's troupe, burn their houses, and take their families' fortunes. Olaf orders the two white faced women to grab Sunny and throw her off the mountain, but they leave in protest and quit working for Olaf. As they leave, they say that one of their siblings was killed when their house burned down. Carmelita is convinced to join Olaf and Esmé in their evil schemes, as their "daughter." Olaf also reveals that it was he who tricked Bruce into confiscating Montgomery's reptiles when he died. The Snow Scouts are then taken by Olaf's associates using a batch of trained eagles, and since Bruce grabs the net, he is taken as well. The Baudelaires and Quigley grab a toboggan and slide down the slope, but when they reach the bottom, the frozen waterfall shatters. In the ensuing flood, the Baudelaire siblings and Quigley Quagmire are separated. Quigley and Violet call desperately for each other, and Quigley tries to tell them to meet him somewhere, but cannot be heard over the rush of the running water.


Stephanie Zvirin of Booklist gave The Slippery Slope a positive review, complimenting the "joyful wordplay and the quirky imaginative touches", describing the characters as "true to form, ridiculous and fun" and noting that Snicket's "wry telling is pitch-perfect".[1] David Abrams of January Magazine gave the book a positive review, saying "the delight in The Slippery Slope and others in this series is found in the way the author jauntily jots his jokes across the page."[2] Norah Piehl from Kidsreads wrote that the book "has all of the tongue-in-cheek wit that makes the series enjoyable for kids and adults alike", and that "Snicket really outdoes himself".[3]



The book will be adapted into the first and second episodes of the third season of the television series adaptation produced by Netflix.[4]


  1. ^ Zvirin, Stephanie (January 1, 2004). "Slippery Slope, by Lemony Snicket". Booklist. Retrieved July 15, 2015. 
  2. ^ Abrams, David (November 2003). "Unfortunately, It's Excellent". January Magazine. Retrieved July 15, 2015. 
  3. ^ Piehl, Norah (September 23, 2003). "The Slippery Slope". Kidsreads. Retrieved July 15, 2015. 
  4. ^ Snetiker, Marc (January 11, 2017). "Lemony Snicket speaks out about Netflix's Series of Unfortunate Events". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 12, 2017. 

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