So despite having finished the Eclectic Reader Challenge, here I am posting reviews again. I’m not sure yet whether I will plan the next eleven books I read to fit with the challenge but I am certainly going to post a review when I read a book that fits.
This is one from my to be read pile. When Ray Bradbury died last year, I realised I had not read very much of his writing at all. Fahrenheit 451, a couple of short stories – a mere drop in the ocean of Bradbury’s extensive bibliography. So I went out and bought Something Wicked This Way Comes. It then took me a year to get round to reading it. Boy, am I glad I picked it up.
This book is creepy from the very first. It is set the week before Halloween. One of the boys is called Jim Nightshade. A lightening rod salesman called Tom Fury gives the boys a rod ahead of the coming storm. The scene was definitely set.
An archetypal battle between good and evil ensues. Jim and his friend Will are on the cusp of manhood, are desperate to be older, to be different and the carnival owner Mr Dark knows exactly how to give them that future. At a price, of course, there is always a price to be paid.
Bradbury does not miss an opportunity to sent chills up the readers spine. The descriptions of the fairground rides and of the various circus freaks are some of the most blood-curdling I have come across. Of course, I already had some belief in the creepiness, the evilness of the carnival. Bradbury plays on those childhood fears throughout.
The ending of this book – the triumph in the end of good – felt like a merciful relief. I genuinely felt worry that Will and Jim would not survive their boyhood. I won’t spoil the ending but the way in which good triumphs is truly a joy to behold and it certainly made me feel warm again after all the chills.
Bradbury claimed that his own fears of the carnival started at age four and it seems never really left him. I hope that after writing this book, he was able to be a little bit freer from them.