This was such a bizarre and lovely delight. Recommended by Lemony Snicket, so of course I read it and giggled all the way. Fighting bears, wild boars turning into balloons, a giant killer cat, castles, brandy, frozen ballerinas, pools of blood, gambling, bank robbing, rod beatings...does this still sound like a children's story to you? Its darkness draws on the best tradition of fairy tales. Because, let's face it, fairy tales are full of horror.