87 of 96 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A novel that will stay with you
If there's one thing that Ray Bradbury excels at, it's his ability to recapture the range of emotions and attitudes that were present in all of us when we were just young, impressionable children. It's a sign of a talented writer if he or she is able to make the reader feel nostalgic for a childhood that one didn't have. SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES pushes all the...
Published on January 27, 2002 by Andrew McCaffrey
30 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag
I tried to read this book several times when I was about thirteen (the age of the two boys in the story). Although I was a Bradbury fan, and found the tone and premise intriguing, I could never get past the opening chapters, usually setting it aside about the time the carnival pulls into town.
35 years later, I finally read it.
I didn't lose anything by...
Published on March 27, 2002 by Kindle Customer
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87 of 96 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A novel that will stay with you,
If there's one thing that Ray Bradbury excels at, it's his ability to recapture the range of emotions and attitudes that were present in all of us when we were just young, impressionable children. It's a sign of a talented writer if he or she is able to make the reader feel nostalgic for a childhood that one didn't have. SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES pushes all the right buttons in reminding us of the wonder that was present in everyone.
A lot has been said about the prose of this book, and it's certainly of a higher quality than one would be expecting from a "horror" story. It's quite poetic and most of the time it is excellent at painting the scene. However, there are a number of places where it feels forced and pretentious, as if Bradbury is writing that way just to show off his thesaurus-reading skills. But for every turn of phrase that falls flat, there exist several chilling moments that will be forever etched in the mind of the reader. It's a step above the sort of material that one usually finds in genre works.
The point of view from the two children is executed amazingly well. As in his other novels and short stories, Bradbury demonstrates his superb ability to realistically portray the beliefs and emotions of children. They aren't overly mature, but neither are they childish. He's hit the nail so perfectly that it really feels as though one is reading a true-life account of some curious boys, rather than a fictional account. On the other hand, breaking up the action between two children means that we never really get extremely close to either one. There's some nice interaction between one of the boys and his father that deals with the grown-up's attempt to develop a backbone and to stand up to the evil carnival people. This relationship creates some great dialog between the child and parent, as the older man tries to explain thoughts and concepts that are just slightly outside what the child can realistically understand.
The story itself is quite chilling and is told well. Many of the actions that occur don't really make much logical sense, but they are nonsensical in the same way that fairy tales don't make sense; everything works inside the current context and that's just fine for their purposes. Evil men do evil deeds simply because they're evil. Good men attempt to prevent the spread of evil, because that's what good men do. Their motivation really isn't important. What makes it work is the journey that the characters go through.
SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES is certainly a recommended work. Although often classified as a horror book, it really isn't all that frightening. But it succeeds at being a fantastic adventure tale that will remain with the reader long after the final page is turned.
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Bradbury's best!,
Bradbury at his greatest is truly a great read. Any avid reader can remember the first time they read Farenheight 451. The thoughts and issues contained in that novel were truly amazing, causing one to pay attention to the glory our society can create and destroy. Something Wicked This Way Comes is as wonderful.
The novel is ultimatly about a battle between good and evil, or truth verses deception. The main character is confronted with secrets he doesn't want to know and given the chance to live out long hidden dreams. The book plays out well, leaving the reader wondering until the last pages.
Most important is Bradbury's ability to describe the elements in the novel. One could taste breath, feel the wind, and smell the carnival. Something Wicked This Way Comes is a wonderful book and should be enjoyed by readers of science fiction and other genres alike.
62 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Something Wicked" comes on strong,
"By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes." This quote from Shakespeare adequately describes this now-classic work of horror by Ray Bradbury. Bradbury manages to use evocative language and charming characters to draw the readers into what is almost a parallel world.
Will Holloway and Jim Nightshade are boys born two seconds apart -- one on Halloween, the other on the day before. Will is the ultimate innocent, while Jim is darker and more knowledgeable about the world. These two have been inseparable friends all their lives, despite their different personalities and tiny events that divide them on subtle levels. Then, one day, a strange carnival comes to their town, with a freak show and a carousel.
But a more sinister undercurrent runs in this carnival: The freak show, with its tattooed "illustrated man," blind gypsy witch, and murderous dwarf, is more menacing than the townspeople expect. And when Will and Jim see the carousel change a man's age, they become the targets of Mr. Dark and his evil cohorts -- for fates worse than death.
Bradbury's writing is a mixed bag. While it's extremely evocative and often surreal, it becomes a little clumsy at times. He refers to the carousel horses having "panic-colored teeth," but never explains what this description means. His metaphors occasionally become very strained, and at times the lapses into philosophical musings become distractions to the overall plotline.
However, he expertly draws out a feeling of horror with only a few words, never overdoing the descriptions of something that terrifies Jim and Will. Rather than using "ghoulies and ghosties," Bradbury plays on fears in every human being, such as fears of aging, loneliness, physical decrepitude, loss of loved ones, and most horrifyingly when people are aged or de-aged and thus unrecognizable to their friends and loved ones. The buildup of suspense as the boys hide from Dark and his lackeys is utterly terrifying. And in a masterful use of nostalgia, Bradbury brings readers to the midwestern America of his youth, an innocent place of screen doors, fall leaves and barber shops.
Jim and Will are good foils for one another. Too often in books with two lead characters of the same age and background, there is no personality difference, but these boys are radically different. Will is an utter innocent, with no comprehension of the seductiveness of evil and a great deal of fear for his family and his best friend. Jim, on the other hand, is more susceptible to Mr. Dark's offers. He wants to age to the level of a young adult with the carousel, while knowing in his heart that nothing good can come of it; his temptation is frightening in its intensity. The temptation is reversed for the quiet Charles Holloway, who is haunted by his own age and the relative youth of his son. His gradual changes of thought on this matter are never clumsy or sappy, but rather with the brilliance of Charles' new perceptions.
"Something Wicked This Way Comes" is one of the rare stories that blends unusual prose, good characterizations, and skilful atmosphere into a true spinechiller. A great horror classic. Do not read after dark.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars epic struggle,
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
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prose at Its Finest,
I have read Something Wicked This Way Comes at least 5 times and every time I am amazed at the writing skill of Ray Bradbury in this novel. Each paragraph reads like poetry. I not only see, but I smell and feel the story.
The book evokes the desires of all of us to be younger, older, prettier, or more famous. But there is always a cost for these atributes and there is even a cost to recover them from your past. We all know a Jim Nightshade (the darker side of each of us) and a Will Halloway (the brighter side of us). In this coming of age novel, the two best friends are only one day apart in age, but quite different in what they will do to attain their aspirations. They are anxious to be "older" and when a carnival comes into town during an electrical storm, they find the means to their desires. The question is whether the cost is worth it.
This book is not for those that get high off of action, but for those that love to indulge in feeling goosebumps, smelling decay and hearing creaks. Just one example of Bradbury's prose from the book: "What's the answer, he wondered, walking through the library, putting out the lights, putting out the lights, putting out the lights, is it all in the whorls on our thumbs and fingers? Why are some people all grasshopper fiddlings, scrapings, all antennae shivering, one big ganglion eternally knotting, slip-knotting, square-knotting themselves? They stoke a furnace all their lives, sweat their lips, shine their eyes and start it all in the crib. Caesar's lean and hungry friends. They eat in the dark, who only stand and breathe."
Interestingly, the movie with Jason Robards as Will's remorsefull librarian father (quoted above), still maintains the same prose and feel. I recommend both. Read the book, but remember, there is a cost for going backwards.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Shadow Side of Greentown,
_I've always considered this book to be the dark companion to Bradbury's _Dandelion Wine_. Will Halloway is Douglas Spaulding is...young Ray Bradbury. However, where _Dandelion Wine_ dwells primarily on the innocent and uncorrupted side of small-town America in its golden age, this volume dwells with its shadow side. You see, Cooger and Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show doesn't bring darkness to town, so much as it cultivates what's already there. Like all portrayers of vice, if there weren't already a potentially willing market, they would have no success.
_Yet, every generation the black train steams into town- always on the cusp of the seasons- always in a long October, half way between midsummer and Christmas. Every generation they tempt and entrap. Every generation must either resist or succumb to their dark tricks. These October people are still out there, still making their infernal rounds....
_This book bears rereading. First of all, like much of Bradbury's earlier work it is as much poem as prose. I know that I myself didn't really appreciate poetry, the right brain side of seeing things, until I found his work. Also, as one grows older, one identifies less with Will, and Will's potential shadow, Jim, and more with the other characters. For me, Will's father, an old man who has wandered the world and has suffered a thousand petty defeats- and a much lesser number of minor victories- becomes more and more familiar.
_This book will give you nightmares. It will do so not because of graphic violence, but because of the way it subtly undermines the spirit and spreads doubts through the chinks of the soul. Still, without Dark to contend with, how would Light define, and strengthen, itself?
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic piece of work,
I have to start by saying that I am an avid reader, but it usually takes me about a week to read a novel. On rare occasions, though, a book hooks me so thoroughly that I drop everything and read it constantly. This is what happened with Something Wicked... I am not one for heavy, thick, flowering language in my fiction, but I tolerate it fully with Bradbury. He never just says plain in simple terms what something is or what something is doing. He uses metaphors constantly and they work so well. Yeah, I know that's what good writing should be, but I've read lots of books that use lots of metaphors and it just doesn't work for me. I choke on it and can't see it and can't keep up with it. Bradbury does it masterfully in my opinion. As for the story, it is creepy and it is scary and it is wonderful! No, it won't freak you out or give you nightmares, but it will give you a chill if you let it. Let yourself visualize the characters and hear the calliope and you will be immersed and I bet you'll love it!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming Horror - No kidding... and it's great.,
Well, Ray Bradbury pulled off something I never thought I'd see: heartwarming horror. Something Wicked This Way Comes is a truly frightening horror story about two boys living in a midwestern town visited by a mysterious carnival and its group of evil proprietors and "freaks." The boys see too much and become the target of the malevolent forces of the carnival. Bradbury writes these characters to be truly frightening.
The horror story itself would have been very solid, but Bradbury marries it seamlessly to the story of one of the two boys coming to see his father in a different light, even as the father finds something within himself that has sat dormant for far too long.
A truly deep story that will scare you, inspire you and keep you turning the pages. This one should be read more often, it's a real gem.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No one writes like Bradbury,
Out of all of Ray Bradbury's prodigious gifts, perhaps none is greater than his ability to capture the true essence of childhood in a timeless manner. While his most prolific period is now four decades past, Bradbury's descriptions of the hopes and fears of childhood still strike a powerful chord; in particular, he is able to capture the fears of childhood from an adult's perspective, without in any way minimizing them.
In "Something Wicked This Way Comes" the reader is treated the pinnacle of Bradbury's writings on childhood. In it, he explores the most fundamental desire, and conversely, the most fundamental fear of childhood: growing older. Who among us wouldn't have leapt at the opportunity to be "grown up" at the snap of our fingers, but what about the consequences? Here, Bradbury uses the metaphor of a carnival that preys upon the fears of growing older, quite literally, in order to sustain itself.
The two main characters, Will in Jim, are fourteen, and in that awkward time that is not quite adulthood but not quite childhood either. They are torn between the desire to plunge into adult life, even as they cling to the safety of childhood. In this regard they are no different from any other child, the difference is that the carnival, and it's mysterious merry-go-round make it possible for them to do something about this situation. Juxtaposing their dilemma is Will's father, who married and had Will relatively late and life, and feels his age all the more as a result of his young son.
"Something Wicked This Way Comes" is a clever, spooky story, perfect for Halloween time. Bradbury is a master of descriptive writing, and no one sets a mood better than he does. More than that, tough, this is a novel about coming of age, about the value of youth, but also about appreciating where you are and what you have achieved. It is heartfelt and sincere in an age where far too many novels use cynicism as a mask for a lack of ideas. For that reason alone, this is a novel that is well worth reading.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Halloween book; heck, great book anytime!,
Ray Bradbury was the favorite author of my youth. I discovered The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451 when I was eight or ten and started working my way through everything the library had by Bradbury. This book struck me especially vividly. Perhaps I was just the right age though I never lived in a small town or went to a carnival. The story is so vividly told and so jam packed with wonder and poetry and joy and horror and amazement. Rereading it now some thirty years later, it still thrills and delights. Lasting through time is surely a sign of greatness.
The story is about two boys, Will Holloway and Jim Nightshade, who are best friends in a small Illinois town. One day in late October a lightning rod salesman comes, warns them of a coming storm and gives them a rod to protect Jim's house. That night a mysterious train brings Cooger and Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show to town. It seems like a benign carnival come far too late in the season, with Halloween approaching. Evil things are afoot as the boys discover the more sinister side of the side shows.
The book is more than an adventure story. It's more than a coming of age story. It's more than a fantastical horror novel. It deals with old age--Will's dad is also a major character who comes to blows with his advanced years (or so he thinks of the 54 he's had) in the same way the boys confront their looming manhood and soon-to-be-lost freedom of boyhood. The story looks at temptation in many forms and the importance of joy in overcoming evil. It is a rich and full novel that definitely rewards multiple readings. I can't wait to share it with my son when he is old enough.
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Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (Paperback - 1970)
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