No one has ever written better about the enchantment of childhood than did Ray Bradbury in Dandelion Wine. Its a book that's all about the bright possibilities of youth, when the whole world seems magical. With Something Wicked This Way Comes, he looks at the flip side, how as we get older we discover that evil exists in the world too, and not just that it exists but that it is alluring, to us and all those around us.
It's 1929, in Green Town, Illinois, and Jim Nightshade and William Halloway are thirteen, right on the traditional cusp of manhood. They are still boys when the dark carnival, Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show, comes to town, but by the time it leaves they'll have grown up, for Mr. Dark, ringleader of the carnival, offers people their deepest darkest desires in exchange for their souls. Many of the townfolk, including Will's own father will be seduced by the offer of a return to youth, while Jim will find the offer of growing up fast irresistible. But Will can see what's going on and first saves his father and then the two of them fight to save Jim and the town. This book is thrilling, scary, and, most important, wise in the ways of man. Bradbury well understands that evil is such a powerful force not because it is so awful, but because it is so attractive. The people of Green Town aren't necessarily bad people, but in their willingness to exchange their very souls for an easy chance to be something that they are not, they head down the path of evil. What Mr. Dark is offering is unnatural in the strictest sense of the word, it violates the laws of nature, and Will's struggle against him is truly heroic, maybe even Biblical. You'll not often hear him listed among the great American authors, but with this book, Dandelion Wine, and Fahrenheit 451 to his credit, Ray Bradbury may deserve at least a mention.
GRADE : A