Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

William Morrow, New York, 2001

Originally published in 1962.  Ray Bradbury has received the National Book Award for distinguished contribution to American Letters.  I own this one.

This is true dark fantasy.  Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway have grown up together.  Each is on the verge of their fourteenth birthday, filled with energy and questions, like all young people they are pushing limits.  Will’s father, Charles is fifty-four and filled with regret, for being “old”, for not being more of a pal for his son.  It is the end of October in Green Town, Illinois, and Halloween is just around the corner.

A strange man, a lightening rod salesman, harbinger of storms and bad news, marches into town, finds the boys. Then, in the middle of the night, at the odd hour of 3 AM, an unusual train arrives.  Jim and Will see it, Charles Halloway hears it. The train carries Cooger and Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show, come to entertain, to touch the lives of Green Town.  A traveling nightmare, come to steal souls, by answering dreams and wishes.

And there stood Jim, and  there stood this tall man, each examining the other as if he were a reflection in a shop window late at night.  The tall man’s brambled suit, shadowed out now to color Jim’s cheeks and storm over his wide and drinking eyes with a look of rain instead of the sharp cat-green they always were.  Jim stood like a runner who had come a long way with fever in his mouth, hands open to recieve any gift.  And right now it was a gift of pictures twitching in pantomime, as Mr. Dark made his illustrations jerk cold-skinned over his warm-pulsed wrist as stars came out above and Jim stared and Will could not see and a long way off the last of the towns people went away towards town in there warm cars, and Jim said faintly, “Gosh…” and Mr. Dark rolled down his sleeve.  From page 76.

Through writing full of poetry, dream and desire, Bradbury creates a classic story of good and evil, were self-centered wants lead to devastating results and  hope and laughter are the antidote for fear and longing.  It is dark, creepy and delicious.  This is my third reading and I am still amazed at the density of Bradbury’s lyrical style,  his words convey emotion in ways that are not stilted or sugary-sweet. Deep, heartfelt, real.  Reading this novel as a young adult was one of my introductions to the power of words.

And, of course, it’s all about names.  Knowing the true names of things, of people.  In magic, knowing a name is knowing the inner being. Knowing the inner being means having control over that being.  The weapon against such dark magic is love.

Other reviews:

A Striped Armchair

Book Clutter

Care’s Online Book Club

regular rumination

The Indextrious Reader


Filed under DarkFantasy, Review, RIP V Challenge, Young Adult

19 responses to “Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

  1. I really want to read this one. I picked it up during the read-a-thon but by then I was so tired of reading I put it back down in favor of something quicker and easier. I definitely want to get to it soon though!

  2. I so remember this book from high school – such a good read.


  3. I love this perfect summary within your post: “Through writing full of poetry, dream and desire, Bradbury creates a classic story of good and evil, were self-centered wants lead to devastating results and hope and laughter are the antidote for fear and longing. It is dark, creepy and delicious.”

    I couldn’t agree more; it’s the perfect autumnal read. Loved every bit of it.

  4. I love this “hope and laughter are the antidote for fear and longing” !

  5. I think that this will forever be one of my favorite books! It’s the book that made me say “yep, I love Ray Bradbury” and cemented him as a favorite author of mine! So perfect for this time of year too. I feel like I should pull this one off of the shelves now and give it a reread too!

  6. ^^Points at Chris^^

    I got this one a while ago, due to certain people telling me how good it was. So it’s sitting on the selves waiting to be read!

  7. tuulenhaiven

    Wow, I’ve forgotten about Ray Bradbury…! That’s terrible. I haven’t read anything by him in ages. Thanks for the reminder and this excellent review. :)

  8. I want to read this! It’s amazing – I read Fahrenheit 451 a couple of years ago and was absolutely wowed by it. Didn’t read anything by Bradbury after that though – really want to change that. Couple of books by him (including a collection of short stories) were recommended to me recently, so I need to get right on it.

  9. I read this ages and ages ago when I was a kid but reading the excerpt started bringing it all back home to me.

    I’m pretty sure they made a movie out of this too.

  10. I really want to read this. I wish my library had it… I requested it through ILL, but it still hasn’t made an appearance…

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