like what Snicket/Handler is setting up in this, the fifth book, for the rest of the series. In books 1 through 4 he set up a basic storyline and formula, and repeated it in episodic fashion, making only the slightest alterations to keep the story interesting. The same basic formula is repeated in The Austere Academy, but Snicket/Handler introduces several arcs to the series that will clearly play out in future books. What's the V.F.D.? Who is Beatrice, and what is her relation to the author? What's the Quaqmire's background and how does it relate to what happened to the Baudelaires? This makes the series much more interesting as a whole. In this book, he also finally gives the Baudelaires allies, showing an outgoing dynamic of the three children that was lacking in the previous titles.
Overall, I think The Austere Academy was slightly better storytelling than the prior books in the series. Perhaps I'm just growing accustomed to Snicket and his odd way of writing. Whatever the case, The Austere Academy was good, but perhaps not as memorable or funny as my personal favorite, so far, The Wide Window. Here's to hoping Aunt Josephine survived her ordeal and will reappear in a later book.
A Series of Unfortunate Events:
The Bad Beginning – 3.1
The Reptile Room – 3.2
The Wide Window – 3.6
The Miserable Mill - 3.3
The Austere Academy - 3.4