SPOOKY SUNDAY: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

For today, on the eve of Halloween I feel I’ve saved the best til last. I first bought Something Wicked This Way Comes last year with the intention to read it for that Halloween, however I found myself taking too long reading my previous book and ended up saving it for this year instead. So I had a year’s worth of anticipation built for this book and I’m glad to say it lived up to my expectations.

Something Wicked This Way Comes features one of the most famous examples of the creepy carnival as it rides in to town the week before Halloween and two boys, Jim and Will, try to protect the town and ultimately themselves from its malign influence.

SPOILER WARNING: The following review contains minor spoilers for the plot of Something Wicked This Way Comes. 

This book is my favourite of all those I’ve reviewed for Spooky Sunday. Although it has some issues I found the narrative voice very compelling and the overall writing style of the novel to be very lyrical and beautiful. Many times while reading I was making mental notes of lines I particularly liked and thought were especially poetic. In my opinion, Bradbury’s writing definitely makes up for any faults the novel did have.

Unlike most of the other books I reviewed for this series I didn’t feel this one had any particular pacing problems although it did suffer in places from an overall lack of plot. I think my expectation going into the novel was that a lot more was going to happen than actually did. While I might have liked more action I don’t think that this ultimately hurt my satisfaction with the book too much. Whereas Her Fearful Symmetry  was driven by character, Something Wicked This Way Comes feels as though it is driven largely through description and the atmosphere this creates. However, Bradbury still manages to create a compelling novel with this as it’s main engine.

One problem I had going into the book is a worry that I wouldn’t be able to relate to the story at it’s heart, a coming of age for two small town American boys. However, the real story at the heart of the book is greater than this. While it’s still about growing up, it shows this not as coming to terms with the terrors within the world but learning to accept the happiness you have and stop yearning for something greater that is beyond your reach.

In conclusion, Something Wicked This Way Comes is not only a great Halloween read which I feel captures the true spirit of the season but a great read in general. I loved the final message about finding the laughter even in life’s most fearful things. Although it’s lyrical prose is definitely the best thing about it the book also manages to discuss the very heart of human nature and our constant wish for something more. After all isn’t that the dream behind the circus, that something magical can sweep into town and just for a moment show you a world brighter than your own. But as Something Wicked This Way Comes demonstrates so beautifully, there’s always darkness behind the light.

Rating: 4/5

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