Something Wicked This Way Comes
William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2001
originally published in 1962
It is October, past time for carnivals to come to town, when one night after midnight a blackened train rolls into town bringing with it a carnival. This is not just any carnival but one that is dark and mysterious and a bit scary – just the thing for two young boys on the cusp of manhood.
• James ‘Jim’ Nightshade, 13 years, 11 months & 23 days old, born 1 minute before Halloween begins; adventurous, spontaneous, “his hair was wild, thick, and the glossy color of waxed chestnuts.” – a definite Simon character from my mom’s Simon and Toby adventures!
• William ‘Will’ Halloway, 13 years, 11 months & 24 days old, born 1 minute after Halloween begins; in many ways as cautious as Jim is spontaneous, “with hair as blond-white as milk thistle.” – a definite me, Toby, character from those same Simon and Toby adventures! (I’ll add a link at the bottom of the review for our own Halloween story!)
• Charles Halloway, father of Will, janitor in the boy’s beloved public library and who figures out how to defeat the evil Mr. Dark.
• Mr. Dark, aka The Illustrated Man, also owner/ringmaster of the carnival, tall and wears thousands of stories and characters on his skin. He is seeking the boys because they surreptitiously witnessed the Carousel’s magic on another carny. He is evil personified but has an Achilles heel – one that Charles figures out at just about the end of the story.
• Mr. Cooger, sometime boy, sometime carny and co-owner of the carnival, all mean and all hench-man, now Mr. Eletrico.
• Tom Fury, purveyor of lightning rods, whom the boys meet in the beginning and then later discover him again after the carousel has worked its awful magic.
• Miss Foley, the boy’s teacher, dreamer of dreams and wisher of wishes, takes a ride on the carousel and, and…well, suffice it to say the boys find her later on lost in some woods weeping with fear and grief over her wish coming true.
• Mademoiselle Tarot, aka The Dust Witch, behind her dark glasses she has her eyes sewn shut, but she sees fairly clearly with her inner eyes. She possess the power within her to stop a clock, but she, too, is defeated by a very simple thing. I had to read her demise twice to make sure I got it all!
A wonderfully creepy book, Something Wicked This Way Comes is the perfect book to read aloud around a campfire at night, or to yourself on a cool autumn evening – if you like to be scared. But if you don’t like that scary feeling, then read it in the beautiful warm light of summer. You’ll still feel creeped out but not as much.
As usual, Mr. Bradbury does a bang up job in this book. The events move rapidly, happening over the course of a just 2 (maybe 3) days. It’s a page turner if there ever was one, although the lyrical way he writes and metaphorically describes even simple things, can be cumbersome to some readers, but to me it is music and magic and beautiful.
Rating: 5 out of 5 paws because anyone who can describe a sunset like this deserves the highest praise I can give him: (poetic structure, mine)
Out on the highway
the last faint water colors
of the sun were gone
beyond the hills and
whatever they were chasing
was so far ahead
as to be only
a swift fleck now shown in
lamplight now set free,
running, into dark.
If you want to read about me and Simon’s Halloween Adventure,
Some of the many covers!