A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning, Lenomy Snicket (aka Daniel Handler), 1999
Possibly due to the popularity of the Harry Potter books with adults and children alike in the family, my wife came up with the idea for a family book club and for Christmas bought all the Unfortunate Events book available at that time and distributed among the kids and adults in the extended family. We thought it a great idea. Eventually, I read them all. Each book will get its own review.
The first book follows three young Baudelaire children when an unfortunate event, a fire, destroys their home and kills their parents. Unfortunate events seem to follow as they wind up in the "care" of Count Olaf, a distant relative who is nearest in location. Trials and tribulations occur with almost a happy ending. However, Snicket goes out of his way to make it a miserable ending, a theme for the series, through another unfortunate event. Despite that, it was still an enjoyable book, and it left the series open for more unfortunate tales.
A good start for a series even if a bit depressing (which is, after all, the hook for books). There always seems to be hope for an eventual happy ending.