Adventurous young boys, check. Small town vibe, check. An unfathomable evil in the form of a carnival, check. Powerful style and theme, check, check. Result: Something Wicked This Way Comes.
The novel that gets most mentioned when Ray Bradbury’s name comes up is Fahrenheit 451, one of the greatest dystopian novels of all time, but he was also a big fan of horror stories and wrote a fair share of them. His most famous one is Something Wicked This Way Comes, and although I was quite familiar with the plot thanks to the countless references in other media, I had the pleasure of encountering its dark charm for the first time.
When a new carnival arrives in Green Town, Will and Jim cannot wait to discover all its rides and exciting feats. But they can’t even imagine the dangers behind those attractions, and how much the fate of their little town will depend on their actions.
A coming of age story at its best and a reminder for adults to keep the lightness of a child even when facing the uncanny hardships of life.
Ray Bradbury serves powerful messages through his extraordinary prose. I don’t know any other writer whose writing is so fluid. He doesn’t use fancy phrases and complicated language, but the words somehow come together as a river and once you jump into it, the current never lets you go. Every page pops out like a poem and conveys a wild array of emotions.
The book has a dark, suspenseful atmosphere hanging over it, but it doesn’t lack humour either. You never know where it’s heading, and the resolution feels unique. It requires courage and skill to pull off something like this, and Ray Bradbury has both. He said in an interview that when he had been writing this story; he had travelled back into his own childhood and re-imagined the feelings of anticipation as the carnival arrived in his town. I grew up in a little town in Hungary, and we had similar carnivals arrive every summer. The excitement was the same, even though my family couldn’t afford to send me on all the rides. I had to choose one or two.
This book created goose bumps on me several times and sent me back straight into my childhood, creating a vivid picture of what it felt to be a boy. I would recommend Something Wicked This Way Comes to every book lover, even if horror is not their first choice.
It’s right up there with my favourite coming of age horrors: Boy’s Life, Shadowland, and It. I raise the chalice of the Dark Arts at you, Mr Bradbury.
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