Several years ago, I remember commenting to a friend that Finley didn’t get into characters the way most kids do. By that age, I had already memorized every Mario character, GI Joe, Thundercat, and Dino Rider created. Yet Finley never really got invested in any of the brightly colored characters parading across the screen.

That eventually changed with Phineas and Ferb and, much more annoyingly, Stampy Cat. His obsession blossomed suddenly into something more or less typical of kids his age. And typical for Finley often means “really, really good.”

Still, even though he now likes a handful of characters, I was totally off guard when he became endlessly fascinated with Count Olaf.

Count Olaf, for those of you who haven’t read the books, is the villain from A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Finley likes it when we read to him, and is slowly getting better at reading himself, but it has always been picture books, like Pete the Flippin’ Cat or Superman Vs. The Surprisingly Non-Violent Passive Aggressive Villain or The Plotless Town of Richard Scary. Standard kid stuff. He’d never shown more than passing interest in those boring text-only books that I would occasionally read out loud as they went to bed. Amy mentioned several times that we should start Harry Potter with them, but I’d say, “Why bother?”

Then two months ago, during a particularly long night, I started reading The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls to them, and Finley loved it. Then it was Spy School, then Mr. Poppin’s Penguins (Kella was less interested in this last one. “Penguins aren’t my thing. Rainbows are my things, and flowers are my thing, and butterflies are my thing”). All kept the kids’ interest to one degree or another. They’d like this event or that, but they’d typically lose either interest and consciousness not too long into reading.

Then I started A Series of Unfortunate Events. And Finley can’t get enough.

According to my Goodreads account, I started reading Book One on September 11th. I’m guessing it was a little earlier than that, but certainly at some point after September 1st. As of writing, we’re halfway through Book 6. They’re short books, but that’s at least several hundred pages in less than a month.

Every time I stop a chapter, Finley is sure to beg me to read just a bit more, or to ask, “What happens next?” He will talk to anyone who listens about Count Olaf and his dastardly deeds, or what sort of terrible things the Baudelaire Orphans have gone through. He’s as quick to ask me to pull up a picture of Count Olaf’s disguise as a new Minecraft video.

Honestly, it’s absolutely amazing that he’s into it. The downside of all of this is that Finley won’t go to sleep. It’s easy to get him into bed–“I can’t keep reading until you’re laying down with your eyes closed” is enough to get him charging upstairs–but it’s almost impossible to hand him over to unconscious bliss.

At least I’m enjoying the book, too. If he was obsessed with, say, Divergent, we might really have a fight on our hands.