Shop Indie Bookstores
Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury, Alfred A Knopf, 1962, 307 pp
Ray Bradbury's classic was going to be my Halloween book. I am glad I chose We Have Always Lived in the Castle. They are both about dealing with evil but Shirley Jackson did it better.
In Something Wicked, the story takes place in Green Town, IL, a week before Halloween when a ratty carnival comes to town, blown in on a dark and stormy night. Best friends Jim and Will, both just days from turning 14, can't resist. They live next door to each other and have years of practice sneaking out at night.
What they witness at that carnival freaks out each boy in a different way. Will runs from it, Jim is drawn in. What follows is loss of innocence, one boy coming to an understanding with his father, while the other figures out his deepest desires.
It is a classic story about good vs evil, innocence vs experience, and the cusp of adulthood. I had a problem, as I usually do reading Bradbury, with his awkward and overwrought prose and with the transparency of his themes. I was sorely tempted to leave the book unfinished but I kept reading and hoping to figure out what makes this book so admired by so many.
So I finished, I did not figure it out, and I am done with reading Ray Bradbury. I have read seven of his books and had the same experience nearly every time. I liked The Martian Chronicles best, but I prefer Neil Gaiman for innocence lost stories and Shirley Jackson for creepy evil ones.
(Something Wicked This Way Comes is currently available in paperback on the shelf at Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)