01 November 2009

Book Review: Something Wicked this Way Comes

Title: Something Wicked This Way Comes
Author: Ray Bradbury
Published: 1998/1962 Pages: 290
Genre: Classic Fiction, Horror

Buy  |  Borrow  |  Accept  |  Avoid

Plot Synopsis
from Back Cover

The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. The shrill siren song of a calliope beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And 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 nightmare.

My Thoughts

What a beautifully mysterious tale of good and evil. I particularly enjoyed the characterization of the two main characters, Will and Jim, as diametric complements. One light, one dark. One a thinker, one a man of action. One subtle, one bold. And yet, I purposely do not use the phrase diametric opposites; for while they are opposites in many ways, they are not good versus evil. No, the evil in this book comes in a much more sinister form than that of a young boy. Evil is the circus.

Well, we all knew that. Clowns are terrifying and circuses have freak shows and mysterious traditions. But Cooger & Dark's is more than just a dingy, dirty, dark carnival; it is alive, it breathes, it feeds. It is temptation, and that is why Bradbury's carnival creation is so much more sinister than other literary carnivals and freakshows I have read about. Here, young boys can grow older, the old can return to youth, age is something which can be changed as easily as taking a short ride on the merry-go-round.

Memorable Scene: There are multiple scenes where the boys are running, half-racing each other, but they always tie. This age, this friendship is not ready for one to win, for either to excel at or differ from the other in any significant way. They are at an age of mutual experience. These scenes were beautiful to me.

Memorable Quote: So, in sum, what are we? We are the creatures that know and know too much. That leaves us with such a burden again we have choice, to laugh or cry. No other animal does either. We do both, depending on the season and the need. Somehow, I feel the carnival watches, to see which we're doing and how and why, and moves in on us when it feels we're ripe.

Question: In your opinion, what is the most horrifying carnival/freak show from literature?

Other Reviews
If I've missed yours, let me know!

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  1. Sounds like you got more out of it than I did. I think I had such a hard time with the writing style that it prevented me from really enjoying the story being told. There's definitely a good story there - it's just written in a way that I couldn't fully process or something.

  2. I agree with Jen. I think I'll have to read it again when I can concentrate on it more. Great review though! I'm glad you really liked it. :)

  3. Jen and She - It is definitely a particular way of writing. Bradbury's storytelling is atypical in that the plot is charming rather than action-based, more a slow meander through tangled brush than a race through a field. I hope you guys do give it another try.

  4. hey so glad to see you finished this!! I don't know how I missed the review going up but once we do this months book club sum up I will be sure to post it!! I'm sorry to hear others had trouble with it, I agree that it might be really helpful to get a second read through. His writing is more 'poetic' than linear, it is important to just become lost in the beautiful flow of the words.

  5. PnP - Definitely more poetic than linear. I'm looking forward to the discussion.


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