The Slippery Slope

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The Slippery Slope
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
September 23, 2003
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Fic 22
LC ClassPZ7.S6795 Sl 2003
Preceded byThe Carnivorous Carnival 
Followed byThe 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 Mountains 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.


Continuing on from The Carnivorous Carnival, Violet and Klaus are in a caravan rolling down the Mortmain Mountains. Sunny is trapped in a car with Count Olaf, Esmé, and the theater troupe, which now includes the carnival's henchpeople. From materials in the caravan, Violet frantically constructs a drag chute and instructs Klaus to mix together sticky foodstuffs, which he pours on the tires. The caravan comes to a halt at the very edge of the cliff, and tumbles off when Violet and Klaus step out, leaving them with only a few clothes. They travel up the mountain and are attacked by Snow Gnats, so they take cover in a cave. Snow Scouts, led by Bruce (the man who collected Uncle Monty's reptiles from The Reptile Room), are occupying the cave, and Carmelita Spats (a student from The Austere Academy) is to be crowned Snow Queen. A masked Snow Scout communicates with the Baudelaires with "V.F.D." phrases such as "very foul day". At night, the scout wakes Violet and Klaus and leads them up a chimney. He calls it a "Vertical Flame Diversion" and at the end they reach a "Vernacularly Fastened Door", which allows the trio through once they solve three literary questions.

Meanwhile, Olaf and his troupe have reached the summit of Mount Fraught, and Sunny is forced to do their chores. She sleeps in a casserole dish in the car trunk. The next morning, she prepares breakfast for the troupe, but Olaf is furious at the cold meal. Two villains arrive, described as "the woman with hair but no beard" and "the man with a beard but no hair". Their aura frightens even Olaf, and they announce that they have burned down the nearby V.F.D. headquarters. They give Olaf the Snicket File, without the last page, and give Esmé a green object called a Verdant Flammable Device. Sunny uses the device to create smoke, which she hopes her siblings will see.

Violet, Klaus, and the masked Snow Scout are now in the ruins of the V.F.D. headquarters. The Snow Scout is Quigley, the Quagmire triplet whose siblings thought he perished in the fire that killed their parents. He explains that during the fire his mother hid him in an underground passage, which led to Uncle Monty's house. He learned about V.F.D. from Jacques Snicket shortly after the Baudelaires departed from Monty's house and traveled to find his siblings. Violet, Klaus, and Quigley then see green smoke from the mountain above them, and Violet constructs a device from a ukelele and forks, which can be used to climb the frozen stream. She travels up with Quigley and they reach Sunny, who wants to spy on Olaf. Violet reluctantly agrees, and climbs back down with Quigley.

In the V.F.D. library, Klaus has found a page from a code book explaining "Verbal Fridge Dialogue", and from the contents of a fridge in the headquarters, he learns that there is a meeting in the "last safe place" on Thursday. When Violet and Quigley arrive, the three plot to trap Esmé in order to exchange her for Sunny. They dig a pit overnight and lure Esmé down with a Verdant Flammable Device of Quigley's, but after becoming uncomfortable with the idea of kidnapping, they tell Esmé to avoid the pit. Wearing masks, they climb back up the stream with the toboggan that Esmé rode down on.

Klaus pretends to be a volunteer who will trade the location of the sugar bowl for Sunny. As Olaf and Esmé argue, the Snow Scout troupe arrive and Carmelita is crowned False Spring Queen. Olaf and Esmé invite her to join the troupe. Though the children warn them, the Snow Scouts are ensnared in a net by eagles that fly away with them. Olaf orders Sunny to be thrown off the mountain, but the White-Faced Women refuse and quit the troupe. Olaf tries to throw Sunny off the mountain, but she is hiding behind the car, not sleeping in the casserole dish. The three Baudelaires and Quigley escape down the stream with the toboggan, but the ice has now cracked enough to shatter the waterfall and separate Quigley from the Baudelaires.


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". In the Netflix adaptation during the scene where the Baudelaires escape, Lemony Snicket tells the viewers to refer this to the Itsy Bitsy Spider song, knowing they learned it in their childhood. [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 was 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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