Something Wicked This Way Comes is the best Halloween book ever written.
Also (since that’s somewhat of a narrow category), it is one of the best all-around books ever written. And I truly think that Something Wicked is Ray Bradbury’ best. In fact, I’m kind of shocked at times when people tout Fahrenheit 451 as Bradbury’s finest work. That’s a decent novel, sure, but it just doesn’t hold a candle to the story of an evil carnival coming to town and the two boys who have to stop it—or perhaps, they don’t. This book, which in 2019 terms we’d call “YA,” is dark. In fact, the antagonist who runs the carnival in the story is named Mr. Dark. But buoying everything on a wonderful cloud of levity is Bradbury’s writing, which is as close to poetry as prose can be. Seriously, if you haven’t read this book you should give it a chance.
I first read Something Wicked in college, and then I read it again after college. And then again for Leah and I’s book club—needless to say, I was the recommender. Now, I’m re-reading it for a fourth time because it just so happens to be part of the ninth grade curriculum at my school. I inherited the entirety of ninth grade English, which I am so far enjoying. And nothing could bring me more pleasure than the fact that already in the schedule was this Halloween classic, slated from October 1st to October 31st. Of course, I didn’t change that one bit.
Something Wicked has a wonderful cast of carnival characters—an illustrated man, a lava swallower, a senior citizen who runs on electricity, a dwarf who operates as a camera, the most beautiful woman in the world, and a “dust witch” (she flies in a balloon). Such a quirky slate makes it seem like the novel could be farce, but it’s at most points deadly serious. And it seems like Bradbury could be cruel, but his work is almost paradoxically the most wholesome work I’ve ever read. Something Wicked centers around two best friends, one who was born a minute before midnight on October 30th, and the other a minute after, on October 31st. And one of them has a very elderly father.
And that’s basically it; there aren’t too many names to remember. The boys and the dad have to stop the dark carnival, which is snatching people up, and I have yet to read a better book that captures the sense of life in the 1950’s (with all of its imperfections) without seeming too trite. But enough with the praises, and check THIS out: Did you know that Something Wicket This Way Comes is SHORT? It’s really, really short (Bradbury could be accused of many things, but probably not of being long-winded). Currently, on the day I’m making this post, it is eight days until Halloween. If you are reading this, and if you’re interested, you have PLENTY of time to buy this book and read it before the calendar strikes 31. Do it! DO IT!
(Seriously, outside of Ella Minnow Pea, this is my very favorite book, and you could really enjoy it at any time of the year)
–Jeff and Leah