The Ersatz Elevator is the sixth book in A Series of Unfortunate Events by American author, Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler). As we once again join the unlucky Baudelaire orphans, they are deposited by their banker, the constantly coughing Mr Poe, at 667 Dark Avenue, into the hands of their new guardians, Jerome and Esme Squalor. Esme is a rather forceful woman who is a dedicated follower of fashion, while Jerome never likes to argue, with anyone. Having already suffered the loss of their parents, the threat of marriage, slave labour, hypnosis, a terrible boarding school, and the murder of their Uncle Monty and Aunt Josephine at the hands of the evil Count Olaf and his nefarious assistants, the siblings are ever-vigilant of his reappearance. Luckily these well-mannered and uncomplaining children are also very resourceful: Violet invents, Klaus researches and Sunny bites. Snicket’s tone throughout is apologetic, sincere and matter-of-fact as he relates the unfortunate events in the children’s lives; his imaginative and even surreptitiously educational style will hold much appeal for younger readers. Snicket’s word and phrase definitions are often hilarious. This instalment sees the Baudelaires climbing a lot of stairs (and occasionally sliding down bannisters), forced to wear ill-fitting pinstripe suits, drinking aqua martinis and parsley sodas, eating at Café Salmonella, climbing up and down a lift shaft, being thrown down a lift shaft, and improvising ropes and welding equipment, all the while worrying about their kidnapped friends, the Quagmire triplets. Count Olaf once again manages to fool the adults with a simple disguise involving a monocle, high boots and improper English. Sunny uses her teeth to save the day and surprises everyone by bidding at an auction. As always, the alliterative titles are delightful and Brett Helquist provides some wonderfully evocative illustrations. Where will the orphans end up next? Perhaps the seventh installment, The Vile Village, will shed light on their fate.