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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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By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes. [Knocking]
How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags!
What is't you do?
The above quote from Shakespeare's Macbeth is whence this book takes its title, but it's the character Macbeth's quote immediately following the titular quote that seems to me more à propos to an attempt at reviewing the book; for Bradbury, despite the book's ending, is a full adept at exploring the secret, black and midnight thoughts of us all. The book's fault - in my eyes - is that it presents, in the end, a Manichean, Star Wars view of the world which just doesn't wash with me. Thankfully, throughout most of the book, Bradbury is more concerned with the dark carnival that comes into town upon a midnight wind one October and the dreamlike horrors it works upon the townspeople. This is where the magic in the prose lies. It rather reminds me of Blake's remark about Milton, that he was a true poet and on the devil's side without knowing it.
Be all this as it may, it's very difficult to tell the prospective reader what this book is about, because of its wild poetic exploration of the dark corners of the human soul. But I think it's best seen as a sort of warning: Beware of your dreams and imaginings - regardless of your age or situation - for therein unfathomable darkness lies beneath the gilt surface. This is best set forth by the doomed schoolmarm, Miss Foley, bewitched by the memories of her lost youth:
"Best skate the thin ice, lightly. Paused, the weight of your attention might crack the shell. Plunged through the crust, you might drown in depths so cold, so remote, that all the Past lay carved in tombstone marbles there. Ice water would syringe your veins. Transfixed at the mirror sill, you would stand forever, unable to lift your gaze from the proofs of Time."
And the doomed lightning-rod salesman, bewitched by the ideal of the perfect woman:
"Once, as a boy, sneaking the cool grottos (sic) behind a motion picture theater screen, on his way to a free seat, he had glanced up and there towering and flooding the haunted dark seen a woman's face as he had never seen it since, of such size and beauty built of milk-bone and moon flesh as to freeze him there alone behind the stage, shadowed by the motion of her lips, the bird-wing flicker of her eyes, the snow-pale-death-shimmering illumination from her cheeks."
In an odd way, Bradbury seems to be telling us to beware his own writing. But the obverse side of this coin, embodied in the person another reviewer has dubbed - quite rightly, I think - the "hero" of the novel, Mr. Halloway, expounding upon the notion of the "soul's energy" that these outlandish carnies seem to crave, maintains:
"How do I know this? I observe. The carnival is like people, only more so. A man, a woman, rather than walk away from, or kill, each other, ride each other a lifetime, pulling hair, extracting fingernails, the pain of each to the other like a narcotic that makes existence worth the day."
In other words, there's scarce relief to be found in any domestic bliss. The way out, the "good" way, seems to be laughter at the absurdity of it all. But, for this reader anyway, this - quite literally, towards the end - forced laughter is the scariest, most inhuman phenomenon of the lot!
In the end, I'd rather have a wicked but all too human Macbeth than laughter at the meaninglessness of memory, imagination and human suffering.
Perhaps, so would Bradbury's ghost.
Most recent customer reviews
Plot: 2/5. Overall I was very underwhelmed.Read more