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Green Town

Something Wicked This Way Comes

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One of Ray Bradbury’s best-known and most popular novels, Something Wicked This Way Comes, now featuring a new introduction and material about its longstanding influence on culture and genre.

For those who still dream and remember, for those yet to experience the hypnotic power of its dark poetry, step inside. The show is about to begin. Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. A calliope’s shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. Two boys will discover the secret of its smoke, mazes, and mirrors; two friends who will soon know all too well the heavy cost of wishes…and the stuff of nightmares.

Few novels have endured in the heart and memory as has Ray Bradbury’s unparalleled literary masterpiece Something Wicked This Way Comes. Scary and suspenseful, it is a timeless classic in the American canon.

293 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published September 17, 1962

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About the author

Ray Bradbury

2,216 books22.1k followers
Ray Douglas Bradbury, American novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, screenwriter and poet, was born August 22, 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois. He graduated from a Los Angeles high school in 1938. Although his formal education ended there, he became a "student of life," selling newspapers on L.A. street corners from 1938 to 1942, spending his nights in the public library and his days at the typewriter. He became a full-time writer in 1943, and contributed numerous short stories to periodicals before publishing a collection of them, Dark Carnival, in 1947.

His reputation as a writer of courage and vision was established with the publication of The Martian Chronicles in 1950, which describes the first attempts of Earth people to conquer and colonize Mars, and the unintended consequences. Next came The Illustrated Man and then, in 1953, Fahrenheit 451, which many consider to be Bradbury's masterpiece, a scathing indictment of censorship set in a future world where the written word is forbidden. In an attempt to salvage their history and culture, a group of rebels memorize entire works of literature and philosophy as their books are burned by the totalitarian state. Other works include The October Country, Dandelion Wine, A Medicine for Melancholy, Something Wicked This Way Comes, I Sing the Body Electric!, Quicker Than the Eye, and Driving Blind. In all, Bradbury has published more than thirty books, close to 600 short stories, and numerous poems, essays, and plays. His short stories have appeared in more than 1,000 school curriculum "recommended reading" anthologies.

Ray Bradbury's work has been included in four Best American Short Story collections. He has been awarded the O. Henry Memorial Award, the Benjamin Franklin Award, the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America, the PEN Center USA West Lifetime Achievement Award, among others. In November 2000, the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters was conferred upon Mr. Bradbury at the 2000 National Book Awards Ceremony in New York City.

Ray Bradbury has never confined his vision to the purely literary. He has been nominated for an Academy Award (for his animated film Icarus Montgolfier Wright), and has won an Emmy Award (for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree). He adapted sixty-five of his stories for television's Ray Bradbury Theater. He was the creative consultant on the United States Pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair. In 1982 he created the interior metaphors for the Spaceship Earth display at Epcot Center, Disney World, and later contributed to the conception of the Orbitron space ride at Euro-Disney, France.

Married since 1947, Mr. Bradbury and his wife Maggie lived in Los Angeles with their numerous cats. Together, they raised four daughters and had eight grandchildren. Sadly, Maggie passed away in November of 2003.

On the occasion of his 80th birthday in August 2000, Bradbury said, "The great fun in my life has been getting up every morning and rushing to the typewriter because some new idea has hit me. The feeling I have every day is very much the same as it was when I was twelve. In any event, here I am, eighty years old, feeling no different, full of a great sense of joy, and glad for the long life that has been allowed me. I have good plans for the next ten or twenty years, and I hope you'll come along."

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 9,659 reviews
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,217 reviews9,900 followers
August 11, 2010
I read this when I was an insanely romantic teenager and since then the cruel world has beaten all that nonsense out of my brain with bars of iron and wires of barb, and left me bleeding and barfing in a vile ditch, so I should probably not have plucked my old Corgi paperback of Something Wicked out from my most cobwebbed shelf and thought to wander nostalgically recapturing the wonder and enrapturement I once perceived herein. In those faroff days I wanted to be the smile on the bullet, I wanted to be the weathervane, I wanted to run the dark carnival, and above all else I wanted a calliope so I could play mad twisting melodies at three in the morning from the caboose of a train made out of dead men's bones. Instead I got a job in an office, after a few detours, none of which involved a naked living woman in a block of ice. But anyway, when I did reread this book, I could not shake off the growing realisation that none of it made the least bit of sense. Not a single bit. And the dad is a complete steal - it's Atticus Finch back from the dead. And I saw that Ray Bradbury never met a pudding he did not want to over-egg or an emotion he did not want to wring dry.

I had grown old. I didn't recognise the place. I didn't know who the boy was who loved this book so much. I knew his name but I couldn't remember his face.

It was a bad idea, rereading a book which so knocked me out all those years ago. I'll give it 5 stars for the love I used to have for it, but I don't really recommend it to anyone now. The world has changed and no longer has the stomach for Ray Bradbury's 1950s goldenhued renderings of his own 1920s childhood. So goodbye, then, to Dandelion Wine, another one I loved.

What I learned from this book is that Memory Lane has been mined. You walk down that street at your peril.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
August 30, 2022
Mark Twain famously died in 1910 and Ray Bradbury was born ten years later in 1920. And on that day, the shadow of Samuel Clemens touched a mark on the baby’s head, and nearby the shade of Charles Dickens looked on in approval.

Bradbury is the bridge to our past, our bright and strong and colorful past. Twain’s world was as bold as a young America, full of steamboats, and fishing holes and jumping frogs. Bradbury, no less an American, but a resident of the October Country, revealed the long shadow of Twain’s history, echoing away like a train whistle far gone. As a citizen of Fall, Bradbury knows to beware the Autumn People and knows them and how to describe them.

In Bradbury’s October country tale Something Wicked This Way Comes, first published in 1962, Tom and Huck have become Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade, one with a birthday a minute before midnight October 30th, the other born a minute after midnight, Halloween morning. Injun Joe is Mr. Dark, the illustrated man, the proprietor of the shadowy carnival that rolls into town every twenty or thirty years.

Bradbury’s rich poetic prose is what was described by Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society, alive and Whitman-like vibrant and descriptive with a swaggering electricity. The author draws us in with his illustration of Green Town; here a simile, like the sound of leaves racing down a late summer’s sidewalk, there a metaphor, a witch’s brew dark and murky, filled with spider webs and green frog smiles, and the color of a ghosts sigh.

In Mr. Dark, Bradbury has given us one of literature’s great villains, but drawn by the Grandmaster with empathy born of long familiarity.

One of the great stories from a great storyteller and a book that everyone should read.

*** 2020 reread - Bradbury's prose is timeless and never ceases to be magical, he's the master of metaphor.

This time around I focused on the friendship between Will and Jim and the relationship Will had with his father.

“Beware the Autumn People” – Stephen King must have been inspired by Mr. Dark and his carnival when he wrote about the pain vampires in Doctor Sleep.

The soliloquy by Mr. Holloway, explaining the genesis and motivations of Dark, followed immediately and ominously by the dialogue between Holloway and Dark, with the boys, Jim and Will, hiding was literary gold.

Bradbury’s rich prose must be savored and enjoyed like a heady brew.

Profile Image for carol..
1,572 reviews8,225 followers
November 10, 2018
The Ray Bradbury I remember reading decades ago was not this poetic. Something Wicked was a surprise, his evocative language doing so much to capture the mood of early fall and the seasons of life, both literally and metaphorically. Clearly, he loves words in their many forms. Equally clearly, he is gifted as using those words to create a finely layered tale about two thirteen-year-old boys when the carnival comes to town. These boys are on the brink of change; longing to be older, to do more and be more. The father of one is a little bit lost in memory of what he once was, haunting their background and the library. Change is in the wind, and a few unusual events in the town seem to herald a larger shift. A lightening-rod salesman comes to call; the barber gets sick; a found playbill describes a carnival coming to town. The boys sneak out of their bedrooms to see it arrive, and it is with a mix of fascination and fear that they watch the carnival set up. Danger ensues--but is it the danger of growing up? Or of fear? Or something more malevolent?

The language is a delightful mix of specificity and metaphor.
"One year Halloween came on October 24, three hours after midnight... both touched towards fourteen; it almost trembled in their hands."

Each brief chapter is almost a poem, an image; a scene described so perfectly as to catch that edge between reckless and safety, age and youth, mystery and knowing. Threads of both exuberance and loss run through, and hints of change.

And characters! In brief sentences, he encapsulates the complexity of a life:

"And the first boy, with hair as blond-white as milk thistle, shut up one eye, tilted his head, and looked at the salesman with a single eye as open, bright and clear as a drop of summer rain."

"Jim stood like a runner who has come a long way, fever in his mouth, hands open to receive any gift."

"What was there about the illustrated carnival owner's silences that spoke thousands of violent, corrupt, and crippling words?"

Bradbury's ability to uniquely characterize extends to the carnival, arriving at the dead time of 3 a.m., setting up in the dark:
"For somehow instead, they both knew, the wires high-flung on the poles were catching swift clouds, ripping them free from the wind in streamers which, stitched and sewn by some great monster shadow, made canvas and more canvas as the tent took shape. At last there was the clear-water sound of vast flags blowing."

Then there is the added bonus of the library. Clearly, Bradbury loves libraries and books, which guarantees affection in my books (I know, I know--the puns!). "The library deeps lay waiting for them. Out in the world, not much happened. But here in the special night, a land bricked with paper and leather, anything might happen, always did. Listen! and you heard ten thousand people screaming so high only dogs feathered their ears...This was a factory of spices from far countries. Here alien deserts slumbered. Up front was the desk where the nice old lady, Miss Watriss, purple-stamped your books, but down off away were Tibet and Antarctica, the Congo." How perfectly that meshes my own memory of the library!

During the second half of the book, the tone shifts more and more from that cusp of fall into the fear of winter, of death. People change, quite drastically. Will's father has been hearing the carnival's calliope as well, and feeling every one of his fifty-some years in distance from his son. Between the boys and the father, Charles Halloway, the viewpoint of the reader is identified, explored, honored. Do we rush forward? Gaze backwards? Which way will we ride on the most sinister merry-go-round? ("Its horses...speared through their spines with brass javelins, hung contorted as in a death rictus, asking mercy with their fright-colored eyes, seeking revenge with their panic-colored teeth.")

It's even more surprising that a book first published in 1962 stands the test of time so well. To my mind, nothing dated it. Bradbury's thoughts on meaning of life, aging and fear are well worth reading again. An amazing book that wholeheartedly deserves a second read and an addition to my own library.

Cross posted at http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2012/1...
Profile Image for Brooke.
538 reviews298 followers
June 12, 2007
Leveling any complaints against Bradbury seems like a literary crime, but I'm afraid I didn't enjoy Something Wicked as much I feel like I should have. The plot was really interesting, and right up my alley - evil carnival comes to town and preys on the unsuspecting citizens. The execution, however, left me wanting more.

The first problem is that the prose is a bit outdated. It's like I ran into with The Haunting of Hill House, it just didn't age well over the last 40-50 years. It's not that it decreases the quality of the novel, but it makes you keenly aware that it was written during a different time, which, for me, made it difficult to really lose myself in.

The other thing that kept me from really getting into it is Bradbury's lyrical style of writing. It's definitely very poetic and pretty, but it's not the most natural way of speaking. Quite a few times, I had to reread a sentence once or twice and really focus on the words, because my brain just didn't naturally follow what was being read. The focus almost seems like it's more on the way the story is being told, rather than the actual story. It doesn't intimately bring you in close to the characters and their situation; rather, it keeps you on the outside while you watch what happens. I couldn't sink into it, which is what I prefer when reading.

Finally, the resolution is just a little too feel-good for me. Good conquers evil, I get it, but Bradbury didn't use this concept very subtly.

This review sounds more negative than I feel about the book, but these issues did drag it down. I still really enjoyed the plot and the characters from the carnival. Mr. Dark, the carnival's tattooed proprietor, is definitely a villain to remember. If you're looking to experience some of the classic American authors, I'd recommend Bradbury over almost everyone else.
Profile Image for Johann (jobis89).
672 reviews4,296 followers
October 24, 2021
“Beware the autumn people.”

A travelling carnival arrives in a small midwestern town one day in October, resulting in a nightmarish experience for two 13 year old boys.

Do you like coming of age tales? Do you like beautifully written prose? Do you like your stories to invoke stunning autumnal imagery whilst whisking you away to the carnival? Well then, step right up, because Something Wicked This Way Comes...

Ray Bradbury has been a new favourite for me this year. I read The Halloween Tree last year and although I liked it, I wasn’t completely enamoured. Then I read The October Country last month and it blew me away...I decided I needed more Bradbury STAT so picked up this one, and all of a sudden I’ve got a Bradbury Pinterest board and I’m sitting fawning over Bradbury quotes (this is a clear marker for when I’m obsessed with something!)

This book has it all! A carousel that depending on which direction it spins can either age the rider or turn the years back. A terrifying Dust Witch that has her eyes sewn shut yet can feel emotions with her hands. And she rides in a hot air balloon! Then there’s Mr Dark, the big bad villain who is also known as The Illustrated Man (linked to Bradbury’s collection of the same name, I wonder?)

The two young protagonists, Jim Nightshade (that name *swoons*) and Will Halloway are just perfectly drawn, the two of them running around and getting up to mischief, as young kids are ought to do. Then we have Charles Halloway (Will’s father) who I could listen to forever. His monologues about life and aging are an absolute pleasure to read. Plus he spends an awful amount of time in the library surrounded by books, and I know most of us can get behind that setting!! There's a little excerpt where Mr. Halloway talks about the "autumn people" and it simply took my breath away - it was basically Bradbury's way of beautifully describing those who are evil (see below):

"Beware the autumn people… For some, autumn comes early, stays late through life…For these beings, fall is the ever normal season, the only weather, there be no choice beyond. Where do they come from? The dust. Where do they go? The grave. Does blood stir in their veins? No: the night wind. What ticks in their head? The worm. What speaks from their mouth? The toad. What sees from their eyes? The snake. What hears with their ear? The abyss between the stars. They sift the human storm for souls, eat flesh of reason, fill tombs with sinners. They frenzy forth. In gusts they beetle-scurry, creep, thread, filter, motion, make all moons sullen, and surely cloud all clear-run waters. The spider-web hears them, trembles- breaks. Such are the autumn people. Beware of them."

Bradbury tackles a number of different themes in this piece of literary magic: growing old, father and son relationships, but most important of all - how laughter and love and being good can help drive out any darkness you may come across.

Not everyone will enjoy Bradbury's poetic prose in this one, and I can fully understand that. But it really worked for me as I was carried away in an autumnal breeze off to the carnival *sighs* This has been one of my top books of the year. Bradbury, you have stolen my heart. 5 stars.

Reread October 2021. Just as magical as I remembered.
Profile Image for Eric.
895 reviews79 followers
November 21, 2013
I had an incredibly hard time reading this book, especially considering it's a 300-page linear story about an evil circus coming to a small town. I think it's because -- unlike Fahrenheit 451 -- Bradbury overwrote this book to the point of it being dense poetry rather than prose. The dialogue is sparse and stilted, and the descriptions are never-ending, and hard to follow.

Reading the opening chapter, the language excited me. I falsely assumed it was just being used to set the mood and would taper off in due course, but it never ended. I wanted to scream at the book: "I get it -- the story is dark, macabre, spooky, and ethereal. Enough! Let the story through!"

An example:
It was indeed a time between, one second their thoughts all brambled airedale, the next all silken slumbering cat. It was a time to go to bed, yet still they lingered reluctant as boys to give over and wander in wide circles to pillow and night thoughts. It was a time to say much but not all. It was a time after first discoveries but not last ones. It was wanting to know everything and wanting to know nothing. It was the new sweetness of men starting to talk as they must talk. It was the possible bitterness of revelation.
And another example, this one during an action sequence:
Then the arrow, a long hour it seemed in flight, razored a small vent in the balloon. Rapidly the shaft sank as if cutting a vast green cheese. The surface slit itself further in a wide ripping smile across the entire surface of the gigantic pear, as the blind Witch gabbled, moaned, blistered her lips, shrieked in protest, and Will hung fast, hands gripped to wicker, kicking legs, as the balloon wailed whiffled, guzzled, mourned its own swift gaseous death, as dungeon air raved out, as dragon breath gushed forth and the bag, thus driven, retreated up.
By the final third of the book, I was skimming entire paragraphs just to get through the book. Sadly, an interesting premise is lost somewhere in this mess. I am looking forward to reading the graphic novel adaptation, to see if a medium shift can cure the problem created by the bloated prose.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,988 followers
March 3, 2017
By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.
MacBeth Act 4, Scene 1

This book is straight-forward good vs. evil – and is quite terrifying at points! It goes beyond fantasy and mysticism and straight to the terrifying possibilities from the darkest reaches. This would be a great story to read if you are looking for a campfire tale, a Halloween scare, or a late night, nightmare causing fright fest. Some may find the scariness lost within the poetry of Bradbury’s writing, but for those who are comfortable with it, I guarantee you will be holding your breath at points throughout.

On a side note – I remember as a kid being terrified of this movie, but I don’t think I ever actually watched it! It was the idea that it existed and that it was dark and mysterious that had me quickly changing the channel if it was on. The character of Mr. Dark (played by Jonathan Pryce) would grace the screen and I would instantly almost pee my pants! The thing is, it was produced by Walt Disney so it was probably the scariest thing on the Disney Channel (except for some parts of Fantasia). There I was, minding my own business watching cartoons, and suddenly programming would switch from daytime to evening and I would see this:

Followed by some of the nopiest NOPE images ever!

I could go on and on – it was scary. Even after reading this, I am not sure I will go back and check it out. Still too scared!

Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,951 followers
October 30, 2017
The carnival has come to town.

I have to admit I love the movie more than the book because, well, I enjoy watching the creepiness! I think I need to dig the movie out now and watch it 😊

Jim and Will are two young boys that are drawn into the carnival and they try to help stop the evil.

Creepy good fun!!

Mel ❤️
Profile Image for Julie .
4,078 reviews59k followers
October 6, 2018
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury is a 1998 Avon publication- originally published in 1962.

I can’t believe it is already October, but at the same time, I’m glad it’s here. October is one of my favorite months of the year! One reason for that is that I get to pull out a spooky or scary book and create fun blog posts for Halloween.

The downside is that there are so many books to choose from, and so little time to get them read. Usually, I only manage to get one horror novel read, out of the dozen or so I planned to read.

This year, however, deadlines be damned, I’m going to cram in as many horror stories in as possible.

Because I am such an avid reader, it is terribly embarrassing to admit there are so many ‘classic’ horror stories I haven’t read. I’ve seen movie versions, but never got around to reading the book. This book falls into that category.

It’s been many years since I watched the movie version, starring Jason Robards, but I do still remember parts of it. Still, I had forgotten more than I remembered, so reading this book felt like a fresh experience. However, this book may have shaken by enthusiasm for October and the beginning of autumn…

“For some, autumn comes early, stays late through life, where October follows September and November touches October and then instead of December and Christ’s birth, there is no Bethlehem Star, no rejoicing, but September comes again and old October and so on down the years, with no winter, spring, or reviving summer. For these beings, fall is the ever normal season, the only weather, there be no choice beyond. Where do they come from? The dust. Where do they go? The grave. Does blood stir their veins? No: The night wind. What ticks in their head? The worm. What speaks from their mouth? The toad. What sees from their eye? The snake. What hears with their ear? The abyss between the stars. They sift the human storm for souls, eat flesh of reason, fill tombs with sinners. They frenzy forth. In gusts they beetle-scurry, creep, thread, filter, motion, make all moons sullen, and surely cloud all clear-run waters. The spider-web hears them, trembles- breaks. Such are the autumn people. Beware of them.”

Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway are very best friends. But, when a late season carnival arrives in Green Town, their friendship, and maybe even their very lives are in jeopardy.

This short book, is packed with so much imagery, imagination, and intense suspense, it is hard to put it down. For me, the writing was a little hard to adjust to, with chopped sentences, separated by commas. It did force me to slow down and read more carefully, but didn’t really affect the suspense, once I got into the groove.

Horror stories and movies can be taken strictly at face value, a lot of the time. There may not be much depth or symbolism to them- it is what it is. But, quite often there's an underlying theme, a moral to the story that gets overlooked if you aren’t looking beneath the surface, or with a more critical eye. In this case, I think time is a central theme, and the book is chock full of clocks and references to them.

Charles Halloway, Will’s father, is quite concerned about his age, having become a father later in life. Clocks are referenced metaphorically, and the town clock is a prominent prop.

There are other noteworthy allegorical symbols sprinkled throughout, all of which I will leave for you to decipher.

For me, though, the story has a more basic appeal. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the library and how often books are referenced. But, this isn't a book about books- I just happened to enjoy seeing two boys enjoy reading books.

But, more importantly- how do the boys and Charles beat Dark and his minions? I think they come through to the other side of their ordeal armed with familial love and trust and the ultimate power of friendship.

While Bradbury has written books that speak of true horrors, cautionary and powerful, this one may not hit that plateau, but it is the perfect fireside tale of good versus evil.
4 stars
Profile Image for Julie G.
897 reviews2,929 followers
May 25, 2021
Once, when I was 19, I stood outside a stage door for an hour, awaiting the arrival of Ray Bradbury.

Bradbury was 70 at the time, and he was scheduled to give a lecture at my school.

I was determined that we were going to talk.

If this sounds stalker-ish to you, let me comfort you. It wasn't stalker-ish. . . it was more. . . Hermione Granger-ish.

I had my best pen and a special notebook, questions written down, and I just couldn't believe it, I was going to meet Ray Bradbury!

After an hour or so of this anticipation and pacing alone before a stage door, a guy walked over from the box office to inform me that no one was going to meet or hear Mr. Bradbury on this night. Apparently, someone had just contacted the school to announce that Bradbury was ill and would not be appearing (take heart, he rallied and went on to live 21 more years).

I was terribly deflated. I thought we were going to meet and talk about his writing process. Maybe grab a cup of coffee afterwards?

It all seemed perfectly reasonable to me.

I had wanted to ask him why he felt he gets lumped as a writer of sci fi and horror when he is so clearly the Father of Fantasy.

And, where, WHERE does he come up with all of these words?

I wanted to tell him that I had forgiven him for weak dialogue and character development, because, well, you know. . . HE CREATED A GENRE. (I'm sure this is when he would have invited me for coffee).

Alas, I did not have my opportunity. And it took me a long time to get over my disappointment.

But, I prevailed. I determined I would continue to honor Mr. Bradbury from afar, by reading and rereading his works, and I've devoured many of them. Something Wicked This Way Comes was a new one for me.

It's fantastic, Mr. Fantasy. You've done it again.

As usual, dialogue and character development just aren't the strong parts of his stories, but Mr. Bradbury was a wordsmith, an inventor, a man of ideas. And, he was a philosopher who possessed an uncanny knack of nailing the human condition:

Oh God, midnight's not bad, you wake and go back to sleep, one or two's not bad, you toss but sleep again. Five or six in the morning, there's hope, for dawn's just under the horizon. But three, now, Christ, 3am! Doctors say the body's at low tide then. The soul is out. The blood moves slow. You're the nearest to dead you'll ever be save dying. Sleep is a patch of death, but three in the morn, full wide-eyed staring, is living death! You dream with your eyes open. God, if you had strength to rouse up, you'd slaughter your half-dreams with buckshot! But no, you lie pinned to a deep well-bottom that's burned dry. The moon rolls by to look at you down there, with its idiot face. It's a long way back to sunset, a far way on to dawn, so you summon all the fool things of your life, the stupid lovely things done with people known so very well who are now so very dead—And wasn't it true, had he read it somewhere, more people in hospitals die at 3am than at any other time?
Profile Image for Jenn(ifer).
159 reviews974 followers
November 24, 2012

”Have a drink?”
“I don’t need it,” said Halloway. “But someone inside me does.”
The boy I once was, thought Halloway, who runs like the leaves down the sidewalk autumn nights.


When Ray Bradbury was a boy of 12, he paid a visit to a carnival in his home town. It was there that he saw a performer, Mr. Electrico, sitting in an electric chair where he was charged with fifty thousand volts of pure electricity. Bradbury, seated in the front row, watched as the man’s hair stood on end; he held a sword full of electricity, tapped Bradbury on both shoulders and said, “Live, forever!”

The day following this event, Bradbury returned to the carnival where he again saw Mr. Electrico, who was certain that Bradbury was his old friend reincarnated. It was then that Bradbury was introduced to all of the fantastical carnival creatures: the illustrated man, the fat lady, the dwarf and the skeleton, and most importantly, it was then that Bradbury was inspired to write. And what came from that writing was nothing short of pure magic.


Cooger and Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show! I can’t think of a cooler name for a shady, sinister carnival act than that, can you? I can almost taste the cotton candy, smell the bonfire burning and hear the whirling of autumn leaves rustling in the wind.

How f*cking creepy would it be to wake up at three in the morning, see a train coming into town with a calliope playing THIS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hgw_RD...? I have the shivers going up my spine just thinking about it.

Bradbury took me back to a place and time that I had completely forgotten, or maybe it never existed at all, but somewhere in the recesses of my mind I remember it. I remember the wonder and awe I felt as a child going to the carnival, seeing the exotic performers, longing to follow them and learn their secrets. I remember sneaking peeks into the dusty tents and trailers, imagining what strange and spectacular lives these people must live. Of course the grand menagerie of my imagination was no match to the horror of Bradbury’s band of nefarious freaks.

I have so much I want to say about this book, but the words are hiding from me so I'll leave you with this:

The sun rose yellow as a lemon.
The sky was round and blue.
The birds looped clear water songs in the air.
Will and Jim leaned from their windows.
Nothing had changed.
Except the look in Jim's eyes.
"Last night. . ." said Will. "Did or didn't it happen?”
Profile Image for Trudi.
615 reviews1,455 followers
October 13, 2012

Sigh. I hate when this happens. I should have loved the shit out of this book. It's Bradbury, it's vintage horror, it's Stephen King recommended, it's a coming-of-age tale about young boys and a creepy carnival, and it's been on my reading list for years. This book and I should have hit it off like gangbusters. The chemistry should have been overwhelming and indisputable. But we got off to an awkward start. I kept putting it down and picking up other things. Finally, with the day off work, I took it in hand this afternoon with a desire to just dive in and -- for better or worse -- finish the damn thing. Alas, it was for the worse.

No doubt, some of the writing is charmed and gorgeous. Bradbury's descriptions of the library in particular are wonderful. But the rest for me... imagine cracking open a freezing cold can of pop and expecting that sharp, satisfying bite of carbonation at the back of your throat and instead what you swallow is flat, warm, syrupy water.

To me, no one writes children (especially boys) like King. He can catch, like lightning in a bottle every time, the way kids talk, think and act. I didn't experience that here. Jim and Will feel too archetypical of all boys rather than boys genuine to their unique story. Will is childish on one hand, and too mature on the other. And I don't know ... quite frankly I was bored. The mirror maze was sort of interesting, as was the carousel, but nothing ever felt really creepy and perilous.

Ah shizzle. I can only conclude the book didn't fail me; I failed it.

Profile Image for Apatt.
507 reviews805 followers
October 20, 2017
As I write it has been about a week since Ray Bradbury passed away, as you can expect for such an influential author, numerous tributes are being written by famous authors, celebs, columnists, and of course fans. Instead of adding another drop to the ocean of tributes I would rather pay my own little tribute through rereading and reviewing my favorite Bradbury books. This one is my favorite of them all.

Something Wicked This Way Comes is one of Bradbury's best-known works. Like Fahrenheit 451 this is a fully fledged novel rather than a collection of interconnected stories like The Martian Chronicles or Dandelion Wine. If this was written recently it would probably be classified as YA. Fortunately, it was first published in the 60s, so it escapes such unnecessary stigmata and was read far and wide by readers of all ages.

This is a story of two boys Will Halloway and his best friend Jim Nightshade. How their lives are turned upside down when a mysterious carnival arrives in their Midwestern town and all hell proceed to break loose.

From the 1983 film adaptation

Novels centered around a friendship between two kids like Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn can be very wonderful if done well. There is something about friendship at that young age when walking always seems too slow to get to where you want to go to do what you want to do, so you must always run. If you have a "bestie" to run with better still; the race is always on and winning it is unimportant. Those days stay with you for the rest of your life even if the friend has gone his separate ways.

Reading about Jim Nightshade and William Halloway makes me feel nostalgic and brings back a lot of happy childhood memories even though I did not have to battle creepy supernatural gentlemen from a dark carnival. That said, the fantastical element of this book makes the story even more vivid for me because that is how my mind works. The book is written in simple yet evocative prose, there is a poetic rhythm to Bradbury’s writing which is characteristic of him. Practically every paragraph contains something quotable as an example of written elegance. The book is also highly atmospheric, I love the portentous feeling of the impending arrival of the mysterious carnival; I can almost hear the creepy calliope music described in the book.

The characters are beautifully drawn, Will Halloway is intelligent and earnest without being a mere cipher for the readers, his friend Jim Nightshade is impulsive, impatient and loyal. Will's father Mr. Charles Halloway is a lovable melancholic janitor who finds grace under pressure. Mr. Dark (AKA The Illustrated Man*) the villain of the piece is suitably suave, evil and formidable, his witchy henchwoman is even more creepy than he is.

Beside a great story, there is plenty of food for thought, moral lessons and philosophical issues to ponder. I envy the boys their friendship, I do not want to go on that weird merry-go-round, and I love this book from first page to last. R.I.P. Mr. Bradbury.

Art by FictionChick

Art by SharksDen

circ line

* Not to be confused with the eponymous The Illustrated Man from Bradbury's famous anthology.

This would be my Halloween pick for any year.

• If you like spooky circuses, check out The Night Circus.
• If you type in GR's code for this book's title in a review or a comment, like this:

GR will generate a link to this identically titled " Something Wicked This Way Comes" by Jenika Snow, which looks like a godawful book! 🤣
Profile Image for Susan Budd.
Author 6 books225 followers
October 1, 2022
The first time I read Something Wicked This Way Comes was in my teens and it didn’t have much of an effect on me. The second time I liked it more, but I still didn’t like it as much as I did this time. And I think I know why. This is an October book. An autumn book. Maybe I couldn’t fully appreciate it until autumn—my autumn, that is. The autumn of my life.

For I was in the spring of my life when I first read it, and a thirty-something on my second reading, but I am in middle age now, so I know why a tear slides down Mr. Crosetti’s cheek at the smell of licorice and cotton candy. I know what Miss Foley sees in the mirror maze. I know what Charles Halloway feels at three o’clock in the morning. Now, in my autumn, I hear the call of the calliope.

Strangely enough, what I most remembered from my earlier readings—and remembered fondly—were the scenes of Mr. Halloway in the library. That’s what spoke to me in my spring, in my summer: the old man (Old? He’s only fifty-four!) , “a man happier at night alone in the deep marble vaults, whispering his broom in the drafty corridors” (35). Now, in my autumn, I can finally relate to the boys, the thirteen year olds.

For this is a nostalgic book. Not nostalgia for a time that never was ~ this is nostalgia to a man who grew up in Illinois in the 20s and 30s ~ but nostalgia for a time that never was for me, a woman who grew up in New York in the 60s and 70s. Yet there is something about the atmosphere of the book that speaks to me across generational and geographical lines.

Bradbury’s setting is the fictional Green Town, Illinois circa 1928, but his theme is the perennial one of the battle between good and evil for the human soul. And his thirteen year olds are the embodiment of all the hopes and fears of adolescence. Jim, too eager to be grown. And Will, afraid his friend will leave him behind.

Where once I was drawn to the quiet library haunted by Mr. Holloway, this time I ran through the night, pulse-racing, thirteen year old legs pumping, young lungs relishing the crisp October air, reveling in the strength and bright freedom of youth.

Nostalgia is not for the young. Not for the Wills and Jims of the world. It’s for the boy Charles Halloway once was “who runs like the leaves down the sidewalk autumn nights” (19). It’s for old library janitors, spinster school teachers, and itinerant lightning rod salesmen. It’s for people who lie awake at three o’clock in the morning. It’s for me. And someday it will be for you.
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,144 reviews1,849 followers
August 23, 2020
One of my favorite "semi-horror" reads. I suppose it could be called "horror" but it doesn't fit neatly into the mold. Like a lot of Bradbury's work the smell of late summer and early fall permeates this volume. The point of view is that of a boy on the brink of manhood as he gets to know more about certain concepts of "good and evil" than he ever really wanted to. I grew up on a farm within walking distance of a small (very small) town and this work hits home with me.

There are books that can become or are iconic. While I don't think this one has reached that point with the general reading public I think it might deserve to. It holds a special place in my library and my "reading history". It reached right down and touched something, possibly because I could feel the nostalgia ruffling through the volume and wafting out of the book with each turn of a page. October with it's mixture of melancholy and fun for children, riding on the edge of a dying summer and setting on the cusp of a holiday season leading us into Thanksgiving and then Christmas...the apex of an American kid's yearly dreams. At least it was for my generation, the one before and the one just after.

Is it that way still? Not as much I fear. Will children of the 90s or 2000s or 2010s (2020s and forward) have the same capacity for wonder and fantasy as the children of the 40s, 50s, and 60s or even the 70s and 80s? I guess we'll see.

The traveling carnivals that traveled from town to town and showed up at county fairs of my own youth that set the background for this tale with their mysterious denizens, noisy rides, lights that filled the night while leaving pockets of darkness are almost gone. The barkers and their "side shows", the fixed games of "chance" are passing, a thing of a bygone era. Some of that is probably good...but not all. As you join Jim and Will here and delve into the dark and sinister world of Mr. Cooger, Mr. Dark and the Autumn people I suspect you'll see some corollaries to life, but I can't be sure of that. A lot will depend on your own past...and your own capacity for wonder.
Profile Image for Anton.
106 reviews
September 17, 2017
This book is infuriating. The prose is ponderous, self-indulgent and nonsensical, at every opportunity taking turns of phrase so purple and baffling, that I can only understand them as symptomatic of a woefully adolescent conception of what "poetic" or "serious" prose would look like. (I'd insert an example but really I can't face opening the book again to look for one). Probably connected to that, Bradbury's child characters talk and think like world weary 80 year olds. I can't remember the last time I stopped reading a book because it sucked: usually I vet my reading choices pretty accurately and if that doesn't work I'll find something interesting about it and plow through anyway. This book I threw down after page 60 with something approaching rage.

P.S.: Here's a passage from the novel I plucked at random from one of the other reviews on Goodreads (no offense to that person or to the bazillion other readers who apparently worship this book):

"Oh, what strange wonderful clocks women are. They nest in Time. They make the flesh that holds fast and binds eternity. They live inside the gift, know power, accept, and need not mention it. Why speak of time when you are Time, and shape the universal moments, as they pass, into warmth and action? "

I guess if you like this, you'll just love Something Wicked this Way Comes. I, however, can't help but see it is as a perfect specimen of the nonsense gibberish that passes for "profound" writing in this novel (and in this case it's a fairly essentializing and sexist bit of nonsense as well).
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews33 followers
March 11, 2022
Something Wicked This Way Comes (Green Town, #2), Ray Bradbury

Something Wicked This Way Comes is a 1962 dark fantasy novelو by American writer Ray Bradbury. It tells the story of two thirteen-year-old best friends, Jim Nightshade and William Halloway, and their harrowing experience with a roving carnival that comes to their Midwest Territory home in Green City, Illinois, on October 23rd. The boys learn how to face fear, by dealing with the frightening characters of this carnival. The leader of the carnival is the mysterious Mr. Dark, who seems to have the power to grant the citizens hidden desires. Indeed, Mr. Dark is a malicious malevolent person who lives, like a carnival, on the lives of those enslaved. Addresses Mr. Dark; William's father, Charles Halloway, is a town librarian who hides his fear of getting old. Because he feels too old to be a father to William.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز دهم ماه مارس سال2021میلادی

عنوان: بوی شر می‌آید؛ نویسنده: ری بردبری؛ مترجم: نوشین سلیمانی‌؛ تهران، سبزان، سال1397؛ در332ص؛ شابک9786001173929؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده20م

کتاب «بوی شر می‌آید» یک رمان فانتزی تاریک است، که نویسنده ی آمریکایی «ری بردبری» آن را در سال1962میلادی منتشر کردند؛ داستان دو دوست نوجوان و سیزده ساله به نام‌های «جیم نایت‌شید» و «ویلیام هالووی» و تجربه دلخراش آن‌ها با یک کارناوال سرگردان را بازگو می‌کند، که در روز بیست و سوم ماه اکتبر به منطقه غرب میانه در شهر «گرین سیتی، ایلینوی» می‌آید؛ پسرها با برخورد با شخصیتهای ترسناک آن کارناوال، شیوه ی رودررویی با ترس را یاد میگیرند، رهبر کارناوال همان آقای «دارک» مرموز است؛ «جیم» و «ویل» همان دو نوجوان که در پی ماجراجویی شان پرده از رازهای تاریک کارناوال برمیدارند؛ سیرکی که شبها زندگی مییابد، و بازیها و وسیله هایی جادویی را در خود جای داده است، از آنجمله یک هزارتوی آینه که هر کسی میتواند در آن گم شود، و چرخ فلکی که میتواند با حرکت به جلو یا عقب، افراد را در زمان حرکت داده و جوانتر یا پیرتر کند

نقل از متن: (مرگ وجود نداره؛ هیچوقت وجود نداشته، هرگز وجود نخواهد داشت؛ این ما هستیم که تصاویر مختلفی از اون برای خودمون ساختیم، سالیان ساله با چنگ و دندون بهش چسبیدیم و رهاش نمیکنیم، در تقلاییم درکش کنیم، ازش برای خودمون هویتی ساختیم که زنده است و حریص؛ با اینهمه، مرگ فقط یه ساعت از کار افتاده است، یه خسران، یه فرجام، یه ظلمت؛ مرگ پوچیه.)؛ پایان

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 19/12/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Peter Topside.
Author 4 books816 followers
January 12, 2021
I thought this was a very enjoyable story. It was entertaining and had me curious as to how things would progress. It took me quite awhile to adjust to Bradbury's writing style, which, especially in the early portions of the book, uses a tremendous amount of metaphors and imagery. I found myself losing sight of the story itself among all of those, at times, excessive details. I'm certain this was done to mirror how the main characters at that age view the world, but it just wasn't my style, and made it hard to follow at times. Beyond that, there were some interesting characters, namely the antagonists, and some genuinely creepy moments throughout.
Profile Image for Anne.
4,060 reviews69.5k followers
June 18, 2022
Ok, so this review is ONLY for the The Colonial Radio Theater dramatized production that I listened to and not the audiobook or print version of Something Wicked This Way Comes.
This one was another COVID-19 free borrows from Hoopla, and since I'd enjoyed the radio dramatization of War of the Worlds I thought this would be a lot of fun and a good way to introduce myself to the story..
Well, yes and no.


Yes, because the voice actors were very good & I did end up wanting to give the real story a try.
But no - and here's the important thing - because it was very hard to tell what the hell was going on in the thing. I mean, War of the Worlds just translated really well into a radio drama.
Someone yells, Oh no! I'm in a funhouse! then there's wibbly-wobbly music, then the kids say, Golly gee, that's weird! Let's run!, then you hear sound effects of the kids running away.
And they aren't good sound effects. Every time someone ran away, I could almost see a guy with shoes on his hands cartoonishly making them slap down on a board.
I felt like the plot was really hard to follow with any accuracy. Maybe if this weren't my first encounter with this book it would have been different?
However, as I said, this did make me want to read the book-book.


As far as being scary, I'm just not sure yet. Instead of listening to a radio broadcast, it was like watching tv with your eyes closed. <--you know?
So. I got the gist of what was kind of happening -a carnival comes to town & a couple of boys discover that it's got something evil attached to it. But there were a lot of the more intricate things that I assume just blew right past me, and those things might have made this seem far creepier than it did with just some squeaky sound effects.


I did love the father-son storyline. That was just a really well-written dynamic that you don't see every day. I expected Will's dad to play the role of 'dumb adult' or ' angry father' but he was kind of great. He's the dad we all wish we had, you know?
The boys were a different story. Yuck. Super annoying.
I wasn't sure how old Will was in the book, but he sounded like he was about 10. And he was kind of an obnoxious goodie-goodie with all the no swearing, Jim! stuff. BUT his best friend, Jim, was worse. A prime example of what an indulged, assy little boy looks like when allowed to run wild. If he could be a dick to someone, he was a dick to someone. Plus, his obsession with being 25 was weird. Even though I get that it was thrown in there to show that 'kids want to grow up', I felt it went too far and veered into over the top territory.
Ok, I get it. You want to be a man. But even after he knew all the dangers he still (I think) ran right into the arms of Mr. Dark. <--although, I may have missed something important because of the way the story was told.


Bottom line: If you haven't read this story before, DON'T listen to this version of the thing. If you already know what the hell it's about, your mileage may vary with this radio dramatization.
Profile Image for Ginger.
788 reviews373 followers
October 23, 2020
I love Ray Bradbury's writing so much! This was a wonderful and spooky book to read this month.

"Beware the Autumn people!"

I ranged between 4 to 4.5 stars, but decided to go with 4.5 stars and here's why:

1. The writing was not only poetic and beautiful, but it would suck you into the creepy atmosphere of the carnival. I loved reading about all the carnies, rides and circus sideshows involved with Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show.

I would be reading this story and it would creep into my skin and bones.
Bradbury's writing has that magic touch. You are casually reading one of his books, you look up and realize you've been reading for an hour. You wonder how this has happened and gently set the book down. You want this writing to last!

2. I love the growth of Charles Halloway's character in this. I was cheering him on by the end!
And I loved how

3. The friendship between Jim and Will was wonderful. Who doesn't want a friendship like this? You have each other's backs along with conquering the world together!

"God, how we get our fingers in each other's clay. That's friendship, each playing the potter to see what shapes we can make of each other."

4. I loved all of the characters in the carnival!
From Mr. Dark, the Dust Witch, the Dwarf to many others. They all were so descriptive, unique and creepy.
Mr. Dark was by far my favorite with his illustrations on his body. I loved how

Definitely get to this one if you can!
It's well worth it in my opinion and it's a great book to read during this time.

I'm so glad I finally escaped to Green Town.
I smelled the cotton candy, I listened to the eerie sounds of the calliope, and I tiptoed through the Mirror Maze looking for my distorted reflection.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,102 followers
October 23, 2018
I remember watching the Disney movie back in grade school. It fostered my horror of carnivals and men in top hats, music played backward, and the eerie irreality of people changing ages as they would change hats. As an adult reading the text, I was understandably awed by the rich metaphor and playful language.

Re-reading it now makes me melancholy.

Gone are the years that would support friendly neighbors in small towns where everyone knows everyone else, when the death of a barber actually makes a stir.

The fact is, this is an extremely bucolic coming of age tale centered on the choice to be good or bad with a lot of supernatural help.

Add a spattering of Stephen King's IT, a dab of Mary Poppins, stir firmly into a smooth wordplay of rife with the pastoral, and you've got Something Wicked This Way Comes. 1961.

I honestly don't know if it would stand the test of time for the newer generations. It is theoretically timeless by design, but despite my own personal memories, my objectivity wonders if it falls into a different category.

Mark Twain has appeal because it hits both the historical and the universal in just the right ways. Does Small Town Illinois during a carnival have the same staying power? Maybe. But let me be honest... my tastes have changed a lot since grade school. :)

This is not flashy even though it has great horror scenes. It's slow to develop although it goes at a whirlwind pace in places.

I'm still giving it 5 stars because it is objectively a beautiful piece of writing, but some of its power is slipping from my heart. Alas.
Profile Image for Jason.
137 reviews2,346 followers
November 6, 2013
One thing I’ve noticed about a lot of young adult books and coming-of-age movies is a certain generational disconnect between the protagonist and his forebears. I guess in a lot of ways this is like noticing the absence of Indian food from a French cuisine cookbook, because why would anyone expect otherwise? If a story is to feature the youth perspective, then it should follow logically that his parents’ thoughts, ideas, and motivations factor into the story only peripherally. Right, Mikey? But in Something Wicked This Way Comes, that gap is bridged to a really interesting end.

Something Wicked is the story of two kids scrambling to be a day, a month, a year older, and an aging parent reflecting on the nostalgia of his youth and perhaps wishing to shave a few years off his own accumulated tree rings. The desire here, in the former to be older and in the latter to be younger, serves to drive the characters’ behavior but does so at the expense of sound judgment; and the desire—not unlike Macbeth’s desire to become king—is shown to be inextricably bound to a sense of malevolence on account of that clouded judgment. In fact, the very title of this novel harks back to the opening scene of Macbeth, in which a witch (in which a witch!) intimates the evil nature residing in the main character, and I think that line subsequently calls attention to the potential within each of us for evil to be realized, provided we let it.

The other thing I liked about this novel was Bradbury’s writing, which is almost entirely atmospheric and metaphorical.
Deep forests, dark caves, dim churches, half-lit libraries were all the same, they tuned you down, they dampened your ardour, they brought you to murmurs and soft cries for fear of raising up phantom twins of your voice which might haunt corridors long after your passage.
The imagery of the phantom twin as metaphor for an echo is pretty brilliant here, and Bradbury repeats this feat throughout the book. It probably also helped, with regard to timing, that I read this book in October, as the story takes place in the same month, for the descriptive voice seemed to lend an extra layer of reality to the story.

Something I did not care for, however, was a scene at the end in which . I don’t know about you, but I get riled up when someone simply says to me, “Lighten up, dude.” Because, don’t fucking tell me to lighten up. I could not imagine someone clocking me over the head, boxing my ears, and slapping my face as a forceful means of conjuring a smile. I bet you would not be very happy if someone were to do that to you, right? And what’s good enough for you, is good enough for me.

Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.5k followers
October 30, 2022
By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes--MacBeth Act 4, Scene 1

When you are young, a carnival is all breathless effervescence and light. It’s fantasy, and music and endless dizzying motion. Cotton candy and screaming rides and three chances to win a stuffed bear! As you get older, though, in your teens, your parents warn you of the dangers of the carnival, the lures of the carnies, the dark shadows. The hall of mirrors, once a place of hilarious images, becomes a surreal cosmic nightmare.

In Scotland, PA, a parody based on Macbeth, the three witches, stoned, entice Macbeth to ride on a carousel, and a merry-go-round, to help enhance his confusion. The carousel figures in Bradbury’s tale, too, where evil characters lead children into darkness. Specifically, Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery.

“One year Halloween came on October 24, three hours after midnight. At that time, James Nightshade of 97 Oak Street was thirteen years, eleven months, twenty-three days old. Next door, William Halloway was thirteen years, eleven months, and twenty-four days old. Both touched toward fourteen; it almost trembled in their hands. And that was the October week when they grew up overnight, and were never so young any more. . . ”

James and William in this 1962 tale of Bradbury’s 1920s upbringing in Waukegan (Illinois) say “gosh,” and “darn” and “boy Howdy,” and play baseball in sandlots. They’re living in a fifties American apple pie bubble that will get popped soon by the sixties. Or, within the context of the book’s timescape, has already been popped by the Holocaust and Hiroshima, Hitler and Stalin. Ever-present evil.

In one sense, this is just a scary book about Mr. Dark, the allegorical embodiment of that evil; in another sense it is a typically character-driven story by Bradbury of moral reflection turned on ourselves, on our own propensity for wrong-doing:

“Now, look, since when did you think being good meant being happy? . . . And men do love sin, Will, oh how they love it, never doubt, in all shapes, sizes, colors, and smells. Times come when troughs, not tables, suit our appetites. . . For being good is a fearful occupation; men strain at it and sometimes break in two. I’ve known a few.”

I didn’t like this as much as did when I first read it in my teens; it creaks a little bit. But the speeches by Dad and Mr. Dark, Good and Evil, still sing persuasively in places. Bradbury is ever the poet-philosopher of Waukegan, whether in science fiction or this teen horror tale.

"Oh, yes,” said Dad. "We got to watch out the rest of our lives. The fight's just begun."
They moved around the carousel slowly.
"What will they look like? How will we know them?"
"Why," said Dad, quietly, "maybe they're already here."
Profile Image for Ashley Daviau.
1,808 reviews797 followers
October 10, 2021
Wow, just WOW! This was just as spectacular the second time around as the first, if not more so. This was my first Bradbury and actually my first thought upon finishing this was the first time was that I needed to get my hands on every book Bradbury has ever written IMMEDIATELY. Which then led to a love affair with his work that I’m still mixed up in. This book is BEYOND stunning, it absolutely blew my socks off. It’s dark and terrifying and the whole carnival atmosphere is just on POINT and I adored every single second I spent between the pages of this book. I already find myself wanting to read it and immerse myself in its delightful creepiness again despite having JUST reread it and that is a true sign of an excellent story. Read this one, you absolutely won’t regret it!
Profile Image for Werner.
Author 3 books598 followers
January 13, 2021
Note, Jan. 12, 2021: I just edited this to insert an accidentally omitted letter in one word.

Published in 1962, this remains one of Bradbury's better-known works, and was adapted as a movie in 1983, starring Jason Robards (but although Bradbury himself wrote the screenplay, he wasn't happy with the special effects and felt that much of his vision had been destroyed by the filmmakers). Like Dandelion Wine, the novel is set (presumably in the 1920s) in Green Town, Illinois, the fictional locality Bradbury modeled on his own hometown of Waukegan, north of Chicago. Despite Goodreads designation of the book as #2 in the "Green Town series," however, none of the books and stories Bradbury wrote with that setting are part of any true series, as such; each work is a stand-alone, related only by the common setting, and sometimes by Bradbury alter ego Douglas Spaulding as protagonist. (Douglas doesn't appear here, however.)

The cover copy (which the Goodreads description copies) describes the basic premise. We're dealing here with a traveling carnival behind which dark magic operates, ensnaring foolish humans with a deceptive promise to manipulate time to confer unearned maturity or restore vanished youth. And two 13-year old boys on the cusp of 14 stumble onto its sinister secrets. But despite these young characters, I wouldn't characterize this as juvenile or YA fiction. Young Will Holloway's father, a 54-year-old library janitor, is as much a protagonist as the boys are, and we see through his eyes and get inside his head as much as theirs. It's one of a number of novels for adults with young characters (though some teens could appreciate it). One reviewer has compared this novel to Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus. IMO, though, the similarity is only on the surface, in terms of some of the formal elements (the mysterious traveling carnival/circus is which sub rosa magic operates, and the kid characters playing key roles in both). But the tone, plotting, messages, and the whole ethos of the magic is quite different.

There are certainly positives here. Few writers capture the sense of life's excitement and wonder as a boy experiences it as fully and authentically as Bradbury does (probably because few adults, writers or not, actually retain it throughout their lives to the degree that Bradbury did!). The message that life is something to savor and appreciate right now, rather than living in the past or the future, comes through strongly, and it's worth appropriating. Bradbury can be a dab hand at symbolism, and he writes with a unique style, brimming with sensory detail and metaphor. (It's not an exaggeration to say that his prose here communicates with a poetic quality, using metaphor and indirection in much the same way that a poet does.) For many older readers, this book evokes a strong nostalgia for the younger, more innocent America that preceded the cultural unraveling of the 60s and the later economic upheavals. And the author, who (like me) fell in love with libraries as a small child, evokes their magic in a way that hopefully can't fail to rub off on the reader.

But for all that, I didn't like this book as much as I'd hoped to (though I'm in a minority among my friend circle in that respect). There are some loose ends in the plotting; and the poetic quality of the author's writing, experienced cumulatively at novel length (Bradbury was primarily a short story writer, and I suspect was always more comfortable in that format) can be as much drawback as asset; it can have a strenuous quality to it that slows the reading. The main problem here, though, for me, is what I perceive as a lack of solid substance at the core. It's a very atmospheric book, with a lot of trappings that make it a good read for the Halloween season. But under the seasonal and the atmospheric, good and evil here have kind of a generic quality; they're not really explored with genuine spiritual and psychological insight. Related to this, the denouement, for me, came across as too easy. Most readers liked it better; but I have to go by my honest reaction!

This edition is enhanced by a short Afterword, in which Bradbury briefly explains how the book came to be written. There are also literary connections between this novel and the Bradbury story collections Dark Carnival and The Illustrated Man (heavily-tattooed Mr. Dark here is a.k.a. "The illustrated Man"). But we won't take time to explore these in detail here.
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
1,018 reviews1,183 followers
August 13, 2021
October spooky read #5!

Creepy and nostalgic, huh? Well, doesn’t that sound just perfect! I mean, I’ve loved every Ray Bradbury book I ever got my hands on, so I was quite confident that “Something Wicked This Way Comes” would be a lovely autumnal delight: I had been saving it for crisper days, for thick scarf weather, to be enjoyed with a piece of apple pie or a nice, smoky whiskey (or both!).

The natural sequel to “Dandelion Wine” (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), this is the story of a mysterious carnival that rolls into peaceful Green Town, Illinois, just as the leaves start changing colours. Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade are best friends, and in some ways, two sides of the same coin. One is impatient and reckless, the other more quiet and thoughtful. They are at that precarious age where you are neither a child nor a teenager just yet. They witness the carnival's arrival in town over night, and even though they immediately know that this is no ordinary circus, they are delighted. They will soon come to see that Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has some unsettling powers

Will’s father Charles is what one might call an older man: he married a woman who was much younger than him, had a child late in life and often feels as if there was an unnatural gap of time between himself and his son. The carnival that snuck into town overnight has a very different meaning for him than it has for the boys; Charles has read enough books to know that when something sounds too good to be true, the hidden price tag is often much steeper than anticipated.

As I have come to expect - and look forward to - with a Bradbury book, I was treated to a delicious dose of nostalgia for a time that might have never really been. But I do love this enchanted memory lane, even if it only ever existed in Bradbury’s wistful mind. And I simply can’t resist the appeal of a carnival: had I been born in a different time and place, I would have totally been that kid who runs off to join the circus (too bad you can’t make a living being a tattooed lady anymore!). And if I had read this book when I was younger, I just might have: Bradbury conjures the smells and noises of this strange carnival so vividly that you’ll look up from the book and wonder where the candied apple vendors have vanished to.

But mostly, he paints a vivid picture of the feelings one experiences not simply growing up, but growing old. While this book sometimes has a certain vibe of being written for younger readers, the character of Charles changes everything precisely because he is a man who, as he puts it himself, settled and started late in life. Fifty-four years old is not old by today's standards, but in the 1930s, it was - and Charles feels unable to connect with anyone, but especially Will, because of his age. However, being older and having experienced things the boys haven't is key to this story, and to defeating the darker impulses that seek to seduce them. He is the perfect illustration that age is greatly tempered by one's attitude towards it. When a maze of fucked up mirrors show you something you don't like, its tempting to hop on the enchanted carousel that will shave a few years off, but Charles that would be losing sight of the good things that come with getting on in years.

“Dandelion Wine” was about the end of childhood and the loss of a certain innocence; “Something Wicked This Way Comes” is about the discovery of the dark side of human nature, of the temptations that come with growing up and of the importance of keeping a part of your mind young. 4 and a half stars!

Profile Image for Dirk Grobbelaar.
554 reviews1,094 followers
January 2, 2015
Not a review, really - just some thoughts.

By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.

Other than being a rather creepy story, this novel is also a lament for the passage of time and the ending of things. Consider Jim Nightshade, who at the age of thirteen, has decided not to ever have children:
‘You don't know until you've had three children and lost all but one.'
'Never going to have any,' said Jim.
'You just say that.'
'I know it. I know everything.'
She waited a moment. 'What do you know?'
'No use making more People. People die.'
His voice was very calm and quiet and almost sad.

This passage resonated incredibly strongly with me.

Something Wicked This Way Comes is pretty melancholic and poignant, in its own fashion, and Bradbury’s lyrical writing style underlines that fact. It is also pretty creepy:

A bad thing happened at sunset.

Bad things do happen in this story. Perhaps not the same “bad things” as you would expect in a contemporary horror novel (there is, for example, no evisceration), but bad enough in its own way. Whether you can identify with the America of Bradbury’s youth or not (this should be considered a moot point, since we can’t identify with Dickens’s England or with Middle Earth either, and that’s never a problem), this novel succeeds on many levels; death and fear are, after all, universal and timeless.

How do you hear it, how are you warned? The ear, does it hear? No. But the hairs on the back of your neck, and the peach-fuzz in your ears, they do, and the hair along your arms sings like grasshopper legs frictioned and trembling with strange music.

Something Wicked is a very, very good story, and written beautifully. It’s a quick read, but it compensates for that in many other ways.
The exact nature of the Carnival is somewhat obscure. It seems to be vested in mysticism and the occult, but it remains open to interpretation. The Autumn People theory is fantastic! Suffice to say, the whole thing remains suitably sinister…

The stuff of nightmare is their plain bread. They butter it with pain.

Profile Image for Hanneke.
338 reviews351 followers
July 10, 2022
No choice! I must award this novel 5 stars for its hallucinatory gothic images. I feel that Ray Bradbury is exactly like one of the characters in his haunting tale, Mr. Electrico, who sat on an electrified chair, wheeling an electrifying sword which caused his spectators to be electrified. Quite a unique novel in a genre all on its own if I may say so, as I am not really a horror reader. Such a pity I did not read it in my teens as I now wonder whether I would have been swamped in admiration or scared to death. I had not expected to be so impressed by this deluge of hallucinating words and images.
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