2004 "First Edition" stated; "Book the Eleventh"; "The Grim Grotto"; illustrated by Brett Helquist; Harper Collins Publishers, New York; hardbound in very decorative, pictoral boards; very good condition with unmarked pages; no dust jacket.
The story picks up from where The Slippery Slope left off. The Baudelaires manage to drift along the river after being separated from Quigley Quagmire. They stumble upon a submarine; the "Queequeg" in which they are welcomed by an energetic Captain Widdershins, whose motto is to never hesitate on anything, and his stepdaughter Fiona, an aspiring mycologist. They are also welcomed by the ship's cook, Phil, the Baudelaire's optimistic past fellow worker at the Lucky Smells Lumbermill. The Baudelaires discover that the crew of the Queequeg are searching for the mysterious sugar bowl.
Klaus examined the tidal charts to estimate the location of the sugar bowl relative to the water cycle. He suspects it to be in the Gorgonian Grotto. An octopus-shaped submarine, captained by Count Olaf, appears on the Queequeg's sonar, but it is driven off by a mysterious object which appears only as a question mark on the radar screen.
Fiona then looks in her mycological textbooks to research the Gorgonian Grotto. It is a cone-shaped cave which houses a rare species of poisonous mushroom named Medusoid Mycelium. They wax and wane periodically, but when the mushrooms are waxing, they are extremely deadly. The grotto is remote enough that it can quarantine the Medusoid Mycelium from the outside world. Fiona suspects there may be an antidote to the poisonous effects of the fungus.
Over dinner, the Baudelaires discuss everything that they have learned from their journey so far. Widdershins mentions the Snicket siblings, who fought on the side of good. Jacques Snicket, whom the children saw murdered in the Village of Fowl Devotees, was a researcher similar to Klaus; Kit Snicket, who helped build the Queequeg; and before Widdershins mentions the third Snicket Sibling, Fiona interrupts him, wanting to know about the VFD Headquarters the children had been to...