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Something Wicked This Way Comes Mass Market Paperback – September 26, 2006
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A masterpiece of modern Gothic literature, Something Wicked This Way Comes is the memorable story of two boys, James Nightshade and William Halloway, and the evil that grips their small Midwestern town with the arrival of a "dark carnival" one Autumn midnight. How these two innocents, both age 13, save the souls of the town (as well as their own), makes for compelling reading on timeless themes. What would you do if your secret wishes could be granted by the mysterious ringmaster Mr. Dark? Bradbury excels in revealing the dark side that exists in us all, teaching us ultimately to celebrate the shadows rather than fear them. In many ways, this is a companion piece to his joyful, nostalgia-drenched Dandelion Wine, in which Bradbury presented us with one perfect summer as seen through the eyes of a 12-year-old. In Something Wicked This Way Comes, he deftly explores the fearsome delights of one perfectly terrifying, unforgettable autumn. --Stanley Wiater --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Something Wicked is Avon's latest installment in its ongoing series of reprints of Bradbury's works in quality yet affordable hardcover editions. Appearing in 1962, this is the story of a diabolical carnival that wreaks havoc on the lives of the people of a small Illinois town, much like the one in which Bradbury grew up. This edition also sports a new afterword by the author.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Wonderful how an author and his words can act as a time machine and take you back to a different time and place.
There are scan errors in the Kindle edition, though not nearly as many as I have seen in some other Ray Bradbury books. Isn't it ironic that public domain ebooks that can be obtained free of charge from such sites as Project Gutenberg are lovingly edited to perfection by volunteers, while the ebooks we pay for are riddled with errors a third-grader could spot?
Bradbury's language is flowery, purple-colored prose from an older time. In looking at other reviews, it seems that this style is off-putting to some readers. Bradbury does not take a "window pane" approach to describing things (as author Brandon Sanderson might describe the style). His words fall from the abstract and are more akin to poetry. The author paints the scene with notes and chords and melody. The wording is thick and may take some chewing, depending on your mood or frame of reference. It's is rife with allusion. That's not to say that the story is not there--nor is it boring or stylized. There is real tension and suspense. But, Bradbury coats the story in vivid hues to invoke tone, mood and perhaps the nostalgia he must have been thinking of when he wrote this. Indeed, the story itself is inspired by the author's own real life childhood experience from when a carnival came to his hometown.
Still, no matter the author's style, there is a clear framework of a story. At times, it may seem a bit long--but not much. It's easy to see how other authors (like Stephen King for instance) were inspired by someone like Bradbury, when you have scenes involving sewer hideaways and sideshow freaks stalking through town on ill intent missions to find the two pesky young boys. Each time the protagonists escape the clutches of the Carnival, a new struggle ensues with solid reversals of fortune. And there is also the ever-present worry, that nobody will ever believe what is really go on here.
Another thing to note of Bradbury's style is his use of the language to construct scenes. His prose may be purpled--but it is not so verbose. He has a wonderful way of describing these evil things lurking about the town as they tangle with the protagonists, and he does this without resorting to overwrought, visceral descriptions of violence. I felt particularly creeped out by the Dust Witch, Mr. Dark and even the eviscerated Mr. Electro who drolled out stoic declarations like a half-dead toad. All the characters of this dark Carnival had a presence, though not described in complete physical detail-I still had a sense of them. I could feel the mood, the fear they put into the protagonists.
The story is a tad romanticized, and perhaps the voice of the young boys feels out of age at times. Yet, it pretty much works. All the capers the two get into seem realistic enough and appropriate for their age. The evil of the Carnival provides a stark contrast to the idyllic air around the boys, which keeps the nostalgia from going overboard.
Also wonderful is the way that Bradbury creates problems between the boys, who are the best of friends in every sense of the word (at times they seem like they are right out of a 1950's sitcom). However, the absence of Jim's father coupled with his curious and more daring side give him a darker edge and we are genuinely worried about him--just as Will is. This also rings true for Charles (Will's father) who starts off as a nice fellow, but weak. We get to know Charles and understand his feeling of helplessness and struggle through this with him as he must put aside all his neurotic worrying about getting old, embrace life, and understand that his age is what it is (and that it is not even close to as bad as he has convinced himself it is).
This story started out as a short story first (check out the slightly darker version called "Black Ferris") and then morphed into a screenplay which Bradbury hoped his friend Gene Kelly would produce. That never happened so Bradbury took the time to turn the treatment into a full novel--which is what we have here.
The book is a story of boyish adventure, yet Bradbury's style makes the stakes much grander. The Carnival is not just some group of street criminals meant to rip off the good townspeople. There is something more sinister at work. Jim, Will, Charles and the citizens of Greentown come face to face with the physical manifestations of evil of the world and learn that even their small idyllic town is not safe. The struggle is eternal, for today's struggle will be yesterday's battle. The war lasts a lifetime. Yet, it's not so heavy as all that, when the protagonists learn that they must trust to life's good graces to keep evil at bay. They find the necessary strength within themselves to arm against the evil "Autumn People" of the world.
Lastly, the elixir of life plot device, which Bradbury plays with in this story, is also refreshingly simple and yet a wonderfully unique take on this common trope. What dangerous consequences lie behind the glorious promises of a fountain of youth? Read and find out.
A heartfelt tale through and through.
Podcast: If you enjoy my review (or this topic) this book and the movie based on it were further discussed/debated in a lively discussion on my podcast: "No Deodorant In Outer Space". The podcast is available on iTunes or our website.
The only issue I had was with the embellished flair in writing. At times it was somewhat distracting even to the point of feeling like the writer had "gone off on a tangent." Also, at times, the descriptions and character conversations felt like they were from an older time (older than the 50s for sure).
Still, all in all, I would consider this a good read!