I was recommended this book by my daughter Beth, an illustrator and trainee art therapist.
Having a love of all the dark nooks and crannies of carnival, circus, masquerade balls, travelling acts and sideshows, I chose to read this book as part of my Halloween book haul. I have only read one other Ray Bradbury – Fahrenheit 451 – a modern classic first published in 1953 by Ballantine Books. Something Wicked This Way Comes was first published in 1962 by Simon & Schuster.
Blurb by Goodreads:
A carnival rolls in sometime after the midnight hour on a chill Midwestern October eve, ushering in Halloween a week before its time. A calliope’s shrill siren song 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 inquisitive boys standing precariously on the brink of adulthood will soon discover the secret of the satanic raree-show’s smoke, mazes, and mirrors, as they learn all too well the heavy cost of wishes – and the stuff of nightmare.
My reading experience:
From the first paragraph, this story surprised me and enticed me, drawing me deeper into the dark and mysterious world of Green Town. I was expecting classical good prose as I had already read Fahrenheit 451, but Bradbury surpassed my expectations by using prose that completely immersed me in the world of Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show. With descriptive imagery I was quickly able to form a picture of Green Town, and its inhabitants, in particular Will and Jim, best friends on the brink of puberty and all the trouble and wonders that brings. Although the carnival is fantastical, strange and eccentric, it is wholly credible as a magical wonder.
The reader very quickly learns that Will and Jim are the light and dark of Green Town. Jim Nightshade drawn to all things mysterious and dark, while Will prefers to ‘look away’ and preserve his innocence. The reader is also introduced to other inhabitants, with all their quirks and foibles. It is their disappointments, forgotten dreams, hopes and wishes that make them vulnerable to Mr Dark and the Shadow Show. So it is with this, that we are taken to the Library and its janitor Charles Halloway, Will’s father, spending his time wallowing in daydreams of the sunny days of youth unappreciated, and now wishing he could run as fast as his young son again.
This book has a lot of wisdom woven through the pages, about living in the present, seeing beauty in the life you have, appreciating every day, and mostly, about having laughter and joy in your life. These are wonderful gifts from a classic gothic fantasy and masterpiece of literature that will stay with the reader forever.
With a beautiful book design of neon green on black, the 2008 edition published by Gollancz, an imprint of the Orion Publishing Group is attention grabbing and magical.