The Austere Academy

Version: Unabridged (Abridged version available here)
Author: Lemony Snicket
Narrator: Lemony Snicket
Genres: Fiction
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Published In: August 2003
# of Units: 3 CDs
Length: 3 hours, 30 minutes
Tell Your Friends:



Dear Listener,

If you are looking for a story about cheerful youngsters spending a jolly time at boarding school, look elsewhere. Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire are intelligent and resourceful children, and you might expect that they would do very well at school.


For the Baudelaires, school turns out to be another miserable episode in their unlucky lives. Truth be told, within the chapters that make up this dreadful story, the children will face snapping crabs, strict punishments, dripping fungus, comprehensive exams, violin recitals. S.O.R.E., and the metric system.

It is my solemn duty to stay up all night reading my history of these three hapless youngsters into a microphone, but you may be more comfortable getting a good night's sleep. In that case, you should probably listen to something else.

With all due respect,


Reviews (5)

4 Stars

Written by ashley holbrook on August 14th, 2016

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Once again, we enjoyed the book, but it was hard to continue listening after each character because the readers voice was ridiculously horribly. The volume was extremely low and there were times when I nearly told my son to get read the book instead of listening.

Written by Kim Christley on January 4th, 2016

  • Book Rating: 5/5

It was a great book and I can't wait to read the next one. The narrator is much better than some others I have listened to as well.

Tha Austere Academy

Written by Anonymous on January 5th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 3/5

Although I enjoyed the story I have to agree with the other reviews and say that the reader is AWFUL!!!

Series of Unfortunate Event #5 - The Austere Academy

Written by Nancy Smithson on March 17th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 1/5

While my entire family-- from grandchildren to granddad-- love the series, none of us could listen to this book because of the nerve grating, irritating, ear-drum piercing voice of the writer. If I thought "it couldn't be as bad as book 4," I was wrong. Thank goodness the next book is read by Tim Curry. Now maybe I'll know what's going on with these children, because if I had to listen to the writer on each book, I couldn't care less.

Heed the warnings

Written by Graham Gibby on October 17th, 2004

  • Book Rating: 1/5

Full disclosure: I was unable to tolerate more than about ten minutes of this audio book. I make no apologies for my opinions formed in that brief period. Authors are not always the best readers. Mr. Snicket (nom de plume of Daniel Handler) should stick with the former and leave the latter to someone else. As I read the text originally, I heard Tim Curry’s voice in my head. Mr. Handler sounds almost, but not quite, entirely unlike Mr. Curry, or Jude Law, who plays the voice of Mr. Snicket in the movie version. When I heard interviews with Mr. Handler on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air, I enjoyed the conversation, and truly enjoyed the texts I read, even to the point of reading them aloud at people I knew. This can be thoroughly enjoyable and I highly recommend it. I cannot, however, recommend this audio book. The audio level was fairly low, and Mr. Handler’s voice is not a strong one. His tone is rather flat and there is little of the verbal eyebrow arching and dramatic confidences the manuscript cries out for. Add to this uneven sound levels for character voices, and I found I could not overcome my aversion to the performer to hear the work performed. While I have and will continue to enjoy the written versions of A Series of Unfortunate Events, as long as Lemony Snicket is listed as reader, I will follow the advice on the package and disks and not listen.

Author Details

Author Details

Snicket, Lemony

"Daniel Handler tells us that Lemony Snicket was born before you were, and is likely to die before you as well. His family has roots in a part of the country which is now underwater, and his childhood was spent in the relative splendor of the Snicket Villa which has since become a factory, a fortress and a pharmacy and is now, alas, someone else's villa. To the untrained eye, Mr. Snicket's hometown would not appear to be filled with secrets. Untrained eyes have been wrong before.

The aftermath of the scandal was swift, brutal and inaccurately reported in the periodicals of the day. It is true, however, that Mr. Snicket was stripped of several awards by the reigning authorities, including Honorable Mention, the Grey Ribbon and First Runner Up. The High Council reached a convenient if questionable verdict and Mr. Snicket found himself in exile.

Though his formal training was chiefly in rhetorical analysis, he has spent the last several eras researching the travails of the Baudelaire orphans. This project, being published serially by HarperCollins, takes him to the scenes of numerous crimes, often during the offseason. Eternally pursued and insatiably inquisitive, a hermit and a nomad, Mr. Snicket wishes you nothing but the best.

Due to the world-wide web of conspiracy which surrounds him, Mr. Snicket often communicates with the general public through his representative, Daniel Handler. Mr. Handler has had a relatively uneventful life, and is the author of two books for adults, The Basic Eight and Watch Your Mouth, neither of which are anywhere near as dreadful as Mr. Snicket's. Like Mr. Snicket, Mr. Handler wishes you nothing but the best.


Daniel Handler was born in 1970 and brought up in San Francisco, graduating from Lowell High School. During the early '80s he sang with the San Francisco Boys Chorus in San Francisco Opera productions such as La Boheme, Carmen and Tosca.

His mother, Sandra Handler Day, is an opera singer (his parents met at the opera). His father fled Germany as a a young boy; Handler says ""I knew about the Holocaust at an earlier age than most people learn about it, I think, and so the idea that the world could suddenly go very wrong, and that it had no bearing on what sort of person you were, sunk in pretty early. And it's affected my politics and my writing and my life.""

Handler double-majored in English and American Studies at Wesleyan University, where he met his wife, Lisa Brown, a graphic designer and writer. They have one child born in 2003.

When not portraying Snicket, Handler writes novels under his own name. He has just completed his third literary novel, Adverbs, which is due for publication in 2005.. His first novel, The Basic Eight (1999) was set in an austere academy not unlike his own high school; Watch Your Mouth followed in 2000.

When asked to comment on the success of the Lemony Snicket series, Handler says ""I find it mind-boggling.....I think I got lucky -- there's not really a trick to getting published. Everybody knows how to do it. You find an editor who likes your work. There are plenty of good things that don't get published and there are plenty of bad things that do.""

Handler says that the Lemony Snicket series is in the gothic tradition of Wuthering Heights. He also says that the books follow the great Jewish traditions in that the Baudelaire orphans behave well and bravely because it's the right thing to do, not because they'll get ahead; as he says ""Judaism doesn't really promise any reward, they just emphasize that good behavior is more or less its own reward, "" he said.


Brett Helquist was born in Ganado, Arizona, and grew up in Orem, Utah. Soon after Mr. Helquist?s own dreams of becoming a pirate were sunk, he became an illustrator and took on the dangerous work of illustrating the New York Times best-selling Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. He lives in Brooklyn, where he keeps a very old and mysterious map marked with an ""X."""