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The Hostile Hospital

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The Hostile Hospital
The Hostile Hospital
Book Information




Number in Series

Book the Eighth

Recurring Themes
Spine Color

Burnt Orange(US)
Bright Blue(UK)


71 Yellow and Brown Pulse Rate Bars

Ex Libris

Top: Baudelaire children
Bottom: Intercom Speaker

Beginning Image

The Baudelaires standing in front of the Last Chance General Store

Baudelaires' Guardian



Library of Records

Olaf's Disguise

Mattathias (Intercom Speaker)

Baudelaires' Disguise

Volunteers Fighting Disease

Final Image

The Baudelaire orphans hide out in Count Olaf's trunk, and a magazine entitled "Madame Lu-", which is cut off by a crystal ball.

Letter to the Editor

Shredded Paper


The Hostile Hospital is the eighth novel of A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Since the end of The Vile Village, the Baudelaires are now convicts on the run from the police after being framed by the murder of "Count Olaf" and realizing adults won't listen to their side of the story.

It follows the Baudelaires taking refugee in a hospital. Count Olaf, along with his troupe, develop a scheme to perform a craniectomy on Violet (making it impossible for her to inherit the fortune).

Plot Summary

Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire arrive at the Last Chance General Store on the run from the police and residents of the Village of Fowl Devotees. They are falsely accused of murdering Jacques Snicket at the end of the previous book. There they find a shopkeeper who offers them breakfast and lets them send a telegram from the store to Mr. Poe seeking help, but he doesn't reply before the delivery of The Daily Punctilio forces the reported murderers to flee once more. Picked up by the Volunteers Fighting Disease, the children ask them if they knew a Jacques, (because Volunteers Fighting Disease's initials are V.F.D.) but they tell them that they don't know him, and add that they don't know each other's real name, but only call each other brother and sister.

They reach Heimlich Hospital and get jobs with Hal in the Library of Records. Hal explains to them that they look familiar. He then says that he remembers them in a file about Snicket fires. At night, they are forced to sleep in the unfinished half of the hospital where it's cold and damp. Reviewing the few pages of the commonplace book they received from Duncan and Isadora Quagmire, they discover the existence of the Snicket File. They play a trick on Hal to try to get it, but only succeed in retrieving the 13th page, which reads:

Due to the evidence discussed on page 9, experts now suspect that there may in fact be one survivor of the fire, but the survivor's whereabouts are unknown.

It also says the rest was taken by the authorities. At this point, Esmé Squalor picks the lock on the door and chases them for the file. Klaus and Sunny escape up a chute, but Violet is too big and gets caught. Mattathias (who is actually Count Olaf posing as the Human Resources Manager at the hospital) informs the hospital on the intercom that Klaus and Sunny are in the building.

They hide with the volunteers the next day and then they hear on the intercom system that their sister will be receiving an unwanted "Crainiotomy". They then hide in a supply closet and find out (by use of anagrams and alphabet soup) where the villains are hiding their sister, using the name "Laura V. Bleediotie". They disguise themselves as two "very short" doctors so they can get through the hospital. They use doctors' robes and surgical masks to cover their true identity. On their way they come across Esmé who is carrying the long sharp knife that Count Olaf threatened them with in The Reptile Room. She believes that they are the two white-faced women (regular associates of Count Olaf). She leads them to the hook-handed man and the bald-headed man, who leads them to Violet. They take Violet to the operating theater to begin the operation.

Although they briefly stall the operation by telling the history of the knife, Hal walks in accusing them of setting fire to the hospital. Esmé walks in along with the real white-faced women and "exposes" them. They are rounded upon and Violet wakes up. Esmé has set fire to the Library, and the fire is spreading. The person of indeterminate gender tries to catch them as they run through the hospital, with Violet still laying on a gurney.

The three children hide in another closet which looks exactly like the other supply closet that Klaus and Sunny used. They then divert the crowd of escapees outside to the unfinished half of the hospital by acting like the intercom system and telling them that the Baudelaires have been spotted there. They must hurry for the intermediate gender is outside in the hallway trying to bust down the door to the closet. They use tied rubber bands and bungee jump out of the building.

They hear Count Olaf yelling to his associates to put the disguises in the trunk and get in his long black car. Before the trunk is shut, the Baudelaires hide in the trunk of the car while he escapes with most of his assistants, but the "person of intermediate gender" is left in the hospital (possibly killed by the fire). They can breathe in the trunk for there are bullet holes in it probably from high-speed chases with policemen.

Dear Reader: A Letter from Lemony Snicket

Dear Reader,

Before you throw this awful book to the ground and run as far away from it as possible, you should probably know why. This book is the only book that describes every last detail of the Baudelaire children's miserable stay at Heimlich Hospital, which makes it one of the most dreadful books in the world.

There are many pleasant things to read about, but this book contains none of them. Within its pages, are such burdensome details such as a suspicious shopkeeper, unnecessary surgery, an intercom system, anesthesia, heart-shaped balloons, and some very startling news about a fire. Clearly, you do not want to read about such things.

I have sworn to research this story, and to write it down as best as I can, so I should know that this book is something best left on the ground, where you undoubtedly found it.

With all due respect,


Lemony Snicket

Beatrice Dedication

For Beatrice–
Summer without you is as cold as winter.
Winter without you is even colder.

V.F.D. References


Final Picture

The last picture of The Hospital Hospital shows Violet, Klaus, and Sunny crammed into the trunk of Count Olaf's car. Among other items in the trunk are a crystal ball, a flier with "Madame Lulu" printed across the top, and a scrap of paper on which is drawn an eye.

Letter to the Editor

NOTE: This letter has been torn to shreds, and the pieces that are missing are represented by (...).

To My Kind Editor,

I hope that this letter is not mangled by the ferocious and deadly (...) in which I am hiding now. (...) thirteen hundred nineteen and one-half miles from the restaurant where you celebrated your most recent birthday (...) may then exchange (at a near laundromat or jewelry store) for (...) look for a (...) with a long mustache. She will give you the complete manuscript of THE CARNIVOROUS CARNIVAL, along with a satchel containi- (...) --which under no circumstances should you repair-- it is (...) the last (...) survivor of the Baudel- (...) a sketch of Chabo, the Wolf Baby, and Madame Lulu pr- (...) or, at least, what is left of (...) Remember, you are my last hope that the tales of the Baudelaire orphans can finally be told to the general public.

With all due respect,


Lemony Snicket

Word Definitions


Real-World Allusions

Main Article: References and allusions in Lemony Snicket's works

Name Allusions

  • One patient mentioned in the book is said to be living in room 1308, a reference to the book number and the number of books in the series.
  • Emma Bovary, a patient with food poisoning, refers to the character of the same name in Gustave Flaubert's novel, Madame Bovary.
  • Jonah Mapple, who suffers from seasickness, is named after Father Mapple, a preacher known for sermonizing on the Biblical tale of Jonah trapped in a whale in Herman Melville's Moby Dick.
  • "Clarissa Dalloway" is an allusion to a character of the same name in Virginia Woolf's novel, Mrs. Dalloway. Snicket's character suffers from no visible ailment, but stares sadly out the window, which could refer to both Woolf's struggles with depression and her essay, "A Room of One's Own."
  • Cynthia Vane, a patient with a toothache, is named after a character in Vladimir Nabokov's short story, "The Vane Sisters."
  • "Charley Anderson" comes from John Dos Passos's U.S.A. trilogy.
  • Dr. Bernard Rieux, whose ailment is a terrible cough, likely came from Albert Camus's La Peste ("The Plague").
  • Two patients share names with actual authors: Haruki Murakami, a Japanese writer and translator, and Mikhail Bulgakov, a Russian novelist and playwright.

Setting Allusions

  • Heimlich Hospital is a reference to Henry Heimlich, an American physician best known for the Heimlich Maneuver.

Plot Allusions

  • In an illustration, one of the Volunteers Fighting Disease plays a guitar with the inscription "This Volunteer fights disease." This is an allusion to Woody Guthrie, American singer-songwriter and folk musician, who inscribed "This machine kills fascists" on his guitar.
  • In an aside, Snicket refers to his friend, Mr. Sirin, a lepidopterist. "Sirin" was an early pseudonym of Vladimir Nabokov, a famous Russian-American author and noted lepidopterist.

Sunny’s Allusions

  • When Klaus is typing STOP into the telegram, Sunny questions "Arrete?" which is a reference to the French verb for stop, Arreter.


Book Editions

Several editions of The Hostile Hospital have been published. Some of these include foreign editions or re-prints such as: The Hostile Hospital (UK), The Hostile Hospital (UK Paperback) and Panique a la Clinique.

The Hostile Hospital (UK)

This edition has the same content as in the original one. The main difference here is the cover, which is black, has different fonts and a blue spine. Brett Helquist's illustration is also different. The book is published by Egmont. On each of the UK versions, between the coloured spine and the black cover there are narrow images depicting a reference to each books content. The Hostile Hospital features a row of heart rate lines seen on hospital equipment. This is repeated on the back cover.

The Hostile Hospital (UK Paperback)

This is a paperback version of The Hostile Hospital released in the UK by Egmont Books in 2010. It has Lemony Snicket written on the top with A Series of Unfortunate Events written below it in an eye shape.

Panique a la Clinique

This French edition, published by Nathan Poche has a very different cover, Brett Helquist's illustration is not seen here, apart for a portrait of the Baudelaires. It is almost entirely black, with a white illustration of a needle.


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