Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (1962)
And, Will thought, here comes the carnival, Death like a rattle in one hand, Life like candy in the other; shake one to scare you, offer one to make your mouth water. Here comes the side show, both hands full!
One-sentence summary: A carnival led by the mysterious Mr. Dark comes to town, enticing two boys with the promise of fulfilling their secret fantasies and ensnaring them in a battle between good and evil.
When read: I’ve read this at least twice. Probably the first time was in grade school and the second time was in high school.
Why read: As a fan of Ray Bradbury, this was a must-read.
Impressions: I suspect that Something Wicked is one of those books that I might love more as a child than as an adult, which is why I probably haven’t reread it lately. For me, this was a highly atmospheric book that encapsulated at an early age many of the things I would come to love best in fiction: a mysterious, otherworldly milieu; a sense of the surreal and nightmarish; the feeling that we have pulled back the curtain on reality and glimpsed what is behind it; and the idea that ordinary people can be caught up in extraordinary events and become extraordinary themselves.
Current status: I don’t own it but I would like to buy a nice copy and reread it at some point.
- The title is from Macbeth: ”By the pricking of my thumbs / Something wicked this way comes.”
- The novel is set in the fictional Green Town, Illinois, along with Bradbury’s other books Dandelion Wine, Farewell Summer and Summer Morning, Summer Night.
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