Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Something Wicked This Way Comes

by Ray Bradbury

The title is a quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth and is a line uttered by one of the witches referring to the approach of Macbeth.  So we are warned right of the bat that this isn’t some sweet nostalgic tale, like Dandelion Wine.  I cannot believe that I have never read this classic 1962 Ray Bradbury story as I started reading Bradbury when I was a child.  I absolutely loved it.

James Nightshade and William Halloway, two 13 year old boys, are enjoying a beautiful autumn day a week before Halloween when they run into a lightening rod salesman who tells them a storm is coming and then hear mysterious calliope music - maybe - maybe not.  Mysteriously, in the middle of the night, a carnival appears on the outskirts of town called Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show.  The towns people, and especially the two boys, are drawn to the carnival with its maze of mirrors, freaks and carousel.  Jim is especially drawn to the carnival and the carnival seems to have a special interest in him. But all is not fun and games with this carnival and as towns folk start to disappear or appear markedly changed by their visit to the carnival, it is up to Will, with the help of his dad, to save Jim and the town from the evil carnival.

I said it once, I will say it again - I absolutely loved this story.  The writing was superb creating a wonderfully creepy atmosphere, a suspenseful and twisted plot and amazingly memorable characters.  I will never look at a carousel the same again.  It was so ominous when Mr. Dark, who is covered with tattoos of people bound to the carnival, suddenly has tattoos of Jim and Will on his body. The Dust Witches’ pursuit of Jim and Will is terrifying.  And the ending was exciting and heart warming.

I am not usually fond of books that hit you over the head with strong messages but this is a classic allegory about the struggle between good and evil.  And I loved its message that darkness is in us all but it is also within ourselves to defeat the darkness.

The Night Circus has been compared to Something Wicked This Way Comes but I must say I didn’t find much in common with the Night Circus.  Something Wicked is incredibly well written with a wonderful plot, rich compelling characters and the carnival is truly malevolent.  The Night Circus was visually stunning but the Circus itself was magical and wonderful, not malevolent, and the story certainly did not tell a tale of good versus evil.  I highly recommend that you read Something Wicked This Way Comes!                 

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