I had an incredibly hard time reading this book, especially considering it's a 300-page linear story about an evil circus coming to a small town. I think it's because -- unlike Fahrenheit 451 -- Bradbury overwrote this book to the point of it being dense poetry rather than prose. The dialogue is sparse and stilted, and the descriptions are never-ending, and hard to follow.Reading the opening chapter, the language excited me. I falsely assumed it was just being used to set the mood and would taper off in due course, but it never ended. I wanted to scream at the book: "I get it -- the story is dark, macabre, spooky, and ethereal. Enough! Let the story through!"An example:It was indeed a time between, one second their thoughts all brambled airedale, the next all silken slumbering cat. It was a time to go to bed, yet still they lingered reluctant as boys to give over and wander in wide circles to pillow and night thoughts. It was a time to say much but not all. It was a time after first discoveries but not last ones. It was wanting to know everything and wanting to know nothing. It was the new sweetness of men starting to talk as they must talk. It was the possible bitterness of revelation.And another example, this one during an action sequence:Then the arrow, a long hour it seemed in flight, razored a small vent in the balloon. Rapidly the shaft sank as if cutting a vast green cheese. The surface slit itself further in a wide ripping smile across the entire surface of the gigantic pear, as the blind Witch gabbled, moaned, blistered her lips, shrieked in protest, and Will hung fast, hands gripped to wicker, kicking legs, as the balloon wailed whiffled, guzzled, mourned its own swift gaseous death, as dungeon air raved out, as dragon breath gushed forth and the bag, thus driven, retreated up.By the final third of the book, I was skimming entire paragraphs just to get through the book. Sadly, an interesting premise is lost somewhere in this mess. I am looking forward to reading the graphic novel adaptation, to see if a medium shift can cure the problem created by the bloated prose.Regine
---EDIT---I realized how completely incomprehensive my first review was, so this is a complete rewrite. *Ahem*I'm the kind of person that gets into the "spirit" of things. So for October, I decided to read three horror stories: Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde (a classic), The Strain (a complete flop for me) and Something Wicked This Way Comes. This book wasn't easy to find. I had to scour around in at least 6 bookstores in the city to find this book. When I finally had it, tucked away in the bottom of my uber-stylish, eco-friendly canvas bag, I was ecstatic. I have read so many positive reviews about this book. It came highly recommended on dozens of horror book lists, and there was just so much hype about Bradbury's evil carnival. I actually had a mini-ceremony for reading this book: I lit one of my candles, threw two of my favourite bath products into my bathtub and just *gasps* immersed myself (in the tub, and in the book). The book starts off strong: Bradbury writes about his two main protagonists, Jim and Will. He does a good job of contrasting the two boys, setting the sinister, eerie mood for the story, and introducing us to Mr. Dark, or the Illustrated Man. The carnival sets up its huge, welcoming tents in the the town, and the boys slowly start uncovering the evils within the carnival, but at this point, the book just starts to fizzle. The book was well-written, and there were some genuinely COOL monstrosities at this carnival, such as a carousel that can make you older and younger. However, the story just failed to engage me all the way through, and at a certain point, I just stopped caring about what happened in the book. The ending was just too reminiscent of a Care bears episode (spoiler!):"Okay Braveheart, let's destroy No-heart's evil carnival by singing, and dancing, and sending out love vibes". End spoiler. And this is, essentially, how the book plays out.Paul
I read this when I was an insanely romantic teenager and since then the cruel world has beaten all that nonsense out of my brain with bars of iron and wires of barb, and left me bleeding and barfing in a vile ditch, so I should probably not have plucked my old Corgi paperback of Something Wicked out from my most cobwebbed shelf and thought to wander nostalgically recapturing the wonder and enrapturement I once perceived herein. In those faroff days I wanted to be the smile on the bullet, I wanted to be the weathervane, I wanted to run the dark carnival, and above all else I wanted a calliope so I could play mad twisting melodies at three in the morning from the caboose of a train made out of dead men's bones. Instead I got a job in an office, after a few detours, none of which involved a naked living woman in a block of ice. But anyway, when I did reread this book, I could not shake off the growing realisation that none of it made the least bit of sense. Not a single bit. And the dad is a complete steal - it's Atticus Finch back from the dead. And I saw that Ray Bradbury never met a pudding he did not want to over-egg or an emotion he did not want to wring dry. I had grown old. I didn't recognise the place. I didn't know who the boy was who loved this book so much. I knew his name but I couldn't remember his face.It was a bad idea, rereading a book which so knocked me out all those years ago. I'll give it 5 stars for the love I used to have for it, but I don't really recommend it to anyone now. The world has changed and no longer has the stomach for Ray Bradbury's 1950s goldenhued renderings of his own 1920s childhood. So goodbye, then, to Dandelion Wine, another one I loved. What I learned from this book is that Memory Lane has been mined. You walk down that street at your peril.Petertpc
A wonderful classic by one of the best pure storytellers in speculative fiction. Not overly dark and scary in light the state of contemporary horror, but a terrific story with some nice creepy moments to keep you up at night.Adam
I must have missed something -- this book did not disturb or horrify me at all. It reads as something written by a pretentious snob. I managed to finish it, begrudgingly. I just didn't understand half of it. The metaphors were just over the top and unnecessary. I do not see how this is considered something worth reading, let alone one of the best 100 novels of all time.Trudi
Sigh. I hate when this happens. I should have loved the shit out of this book. It's Bradbury, it's vintage horror, it's Stephen King recommended, it's a coming-of-age tale about young boys and a creepy carnival, and it's been on my reading list for years. This book and I should have hit it off like gangbusters. The chemistry should have been overwhelming and indisputable. But we got off to an awkward start. I kept putting it down and picking up other things. Finally, with the day off work, I took it in hand this afternoon with a desire to just dive in and -- for better or worse -- finish the damn thing. Alas, it was for the worse. No doubt, some of the writing is charmed and gorgeous. Bradbury's descriptions of the library in particular are wonderful. But the rest for me... imagine cracking open a freezing cold can of pop and expecting that sharp, satisfying bite of carbonation at the back of your throat and instead what you swallow is flat, warm, syrupy water. To me, no one writes children (especially boys) like King. He can catch, like lightning in a bottle every time, the way kids talk, think and act. I didn't experience that here. Jim and Will feel too archetypical of all boys rather than boys genuine to their unique story. Will is childish on one hand, and too mature on the other. And I don't know ... quite frankly I was bored. The mirror maze was sort of interesting, as was the carousel, but nothing ever felt really creepy and perilous.Ah shizzle. I can only conclude the book didn't fail me; I failed it.Becky
Oh Bradbury, why did I take so long to discover you? I could blame the fact that I missed that class in High School where they read Fahrenheit, or I could point to the some four hundred books on my To Be Read Doompile, but they all seem so shallow now. I instantly connected to your style, it was brilliant. I could feel the autumn and October winds drift past me, laden with smells and tastes that are specific to the chilly months in the Midwest. Every word was so beautiful, so evocative, it was a perfect fall read.It wasn’t spooky, it wasn’t horror, but it was really really ridiculously excellent. I mean, I would love to quote the entire conversation between Will and his Dad, right here, because it is a) the best father-son talk in any book ever and b) from that alone you should understand why I loved this book. But that would be cheating you out of the experience of reading it for yourself. So I will give you an excerpt. It will be my whole review. I want you to have a taste, and then I want you to reach for the book yourself, reach for the bottle, and drink it up. Every word.“…Now, look, since when did you think being good meant being happy?”“Since always”“Since now learn otherwise. Sometimes the man who looks happiest in town, with the biggest smile, is the one carrying the biggest load of sin. There are smiles and smiles; learn to tell the dark variety from the light. The seal-barker, the laugh-shouter, half the time he’s covering up. He’s had his fun, and he’s guilty. And men do love sin, Will, oh how they love it, never doubt, in all shapes, sizes, colors, and smells. Times come when troughs, not tables, suit our appetites… For being good is a fearful occupation; men strain at it and sometimes break in two. I’ve known a few. You work twice as hard to be a farmer as to be his hog.”A.J.
A buddy of mine summed up this book pretty well. He said something to the effect of: You'll be glad you read it once you've finished, but it's not much fun getting there. I agree wholeheartedly. I can't claim to be an expert on Ray Bradbury, this being only the second work of his I've read (Fahrenheit 451 being the other), but what I'm beginning to notice about his writing is that it's much more fun to imagine in summary form than it is to actually read. This book in particular suffers from an unfortunate syndrome. It's a great story gutted by wretched execution.I think the prose is mostly to blame. First off, Bradbury has a higher simile count than a word count. His emphasis italics in dialogue hardly ever make sense (let alone feel necessary). The prose is choppy, wordy, infatuated with grandiose imagery, and so bloated that it plunges the necessary kind of A to B information into obscurity. This rambling train of meaningless chapters––which I suppose I'm supposed to interpret as poetic––makes the plot damn near incomprehensible. I might have been able to handle this had it not been the law of the land for 150 pages. I don't mind it when a writer gets into a groove and waxes a little poetic. Hell, live a little. But when it becomes the defining characteristic of your story at the expense of basic plot points, my eyeballs start rolling on a circuit. The last fifty or so pages bring me back to my original point. They proved that there is indeed a story here, one about good and evil, childhood and belief, dreams and drama. There were flickers of this throughout the novel, but none of it became solid until the end. For that reason Something Wicked This Way Comes displays the marker of a book which begs for a movie and a screenwriter who will adapt a plot in place of the garble that was the majority of the novel. The characters ultimately suffer ambiguity because of Bradbury's investment in weird prose to craft them early on. Interestingly enough, this style tends to disappear in chapters with action, which had me yearning for a rewrite where the rest of the book flowed as well as it did in moments of crisis.I feel obligated to conclude by giving Bradbury at least some props. Firstly, the ending worked well, and was a genuinely entertaining experience. Secondly, there were seeds of Stephen King in here, where in a few years the fantasy/horror fusion would achieve a more perfect (and comprehensible) form, including many of the same themes and motifs. This novel was not a complete waste of time, but it danced dangerously close to that description. I wouldn't recommend this one. The book jacket summary paints a far prettier picture than a real reading will render.Lou
The Dark carnival is coming to town and two boys and a dad are the towns only hope. If only out of fear you could stay home and don't go down to the fair ground tonight for the dark man awaits. Two buddies, boys, they live next to each other and can see each others bedroom windows when needed. Friends born two minutes apart one 1min before midnight October 30th and the other 1min after midnight October 31st Halloween.I loved the father son relationship in this story between Will and his father Charles Halloway. His father has a level of understand of boys and there little needs and acknowledges his sons growing up and testing the waters of limitations in his obedience.A darkly poetic story. Executed in with an elegant prose and a style unique to Bradbury. It's a short novel but the sentences hold more meaning and need pondering over.Page-turning but with a high quality of richness of description and atmosphere.When you visit a maze or hall of mirrors again after reading this you will be reflecting back to this dark carnival that you have paid visit to by way of Ray Bradbury.A timeless story that is high up many readers lists of all time reads and that holds significant inspiration in writers pursuit in writing a story for the masses.As I finished re-reading it I can't help thinking I be paying a visit again to this treasure trove of weirdness, mystery and darkness involving weird characters of the carnival, two youthful buddies and a father. The illustrated Man a really interesting character and probably in my next stop after reading this i will be paying a visit to his novel The Illustrated Man a collection of stories involving a tattooed man similar to that of the Illustrated Man/The Dark Man in this novel. This one keeps you turning the pages with the fate of two friends in mind.Ray Bradbury says in his afterword..."Disney created Disneyland as a bright antidote. He made a new world. I finished a novel, with Mr. Electro at its centre, changed from a kind Christian mystic into an unfailing evil Cooger and Cooger an Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show."If you ever happen to notice a carousel at a funfair rotating backwards and music being played backwards steer well clear of the ride. For that backward ride, a carousel, of a carnival is driven probably by dark feelings, fear and anger.Excerpts that I had to take note of... "A carnival should be all growls, roars like timberlands stacked, bundled, rolled and crashed, great explosions of lion dust, men ablaze with working anger, pop bottles jangling, horse buckles shivering, engines and elephants in full stampede through rains of sweat while zebras neighed and trembled like cage trapped in cage. But this was like old movies, the silent theatre haunted with black-and-white ghosts, silvery mouths opening to let moonlight smoke out, gestures made in silence so hushed you could hear the wind fizz the hair on your cheeks.""In the meadow, the tents, the carnival waited. Waited for someone, anyone to wade along the grassy surf. The great tents filled like bellows. They softly issued forth exhalations of air that smelled like ancient yellow beasts. But only the moon looked in at the hollow dark, the deep caverns. Outside, night beasts hung in midgallop on a carousel. Beyond lay fathoms of Mirror Maze which house a multifold series of empty vanities one wave on another, still, serene, silvered with age, white with time. Any shadow, at the entrance, might stir reverberations the Olof of fright, unravel deep-buried moons. If a man stood there would he see himself unfolded away a billion times to eternity? Would a billion images look back, each face and the face after and the face after that old, older, oldest? Would he find himself lost in a fine dust away off deep down there, not fifty but sixty, not sixty but seventy, not seventy but eighty, ninety, ninety-nine years old? The maze did not ask. The maze did not tell. It simply stood and waited like a great arctic floe."" 'Three....'Three in the morning, thought Charles Halloway, seated on the edge of his bed. Why did the train come at that hour?For, he thought, it's a special hour. Women never wake then, do they?They sleep the sleep of babes and children. But men in middle age?They know that hour well. Oh God, midnights not bad, you wake and go back to sleep, one or two's not bad, you toss but sleep again. Five or six in the morning, there's hope, for dawns just under the horizon. But three, now, Christ, three A.M.! Doctors say the body's at low tide then. The soul is out. The blood moves slow. You're the nearest to dead you'll ever be save dying. Sleep is a patch of death, but three in the morn, full wide-eyed staring, is living death! You dream with your eyes open. God, if you had strength to rouse up, you'd slaughter your half-dreams with buckshot! But no, you lie pinned to a deep well-bottom that's burned dry. The moon rolls by to look at you down there, with it's idiot face. It's a long way back to sunset, a far way on to dawn, so you summon all the fool things of your life, the stupid lovely things done with people known so very well who are now so very dead-And wasn't it true, had he read it somewhere, more people in hospitals die at 3 A.M than at any other time...?""The music, thought Will, what was it? And how do I know it's backside first? He hugged the limb, tried to catch the tune, then hum it forward in his head. But the brass bells, the drums, hammered his chest, revved his heart so he felt his pulse reverse, his blood turn back in perverse thrusts through all his flesh, so he was nearly shaken free to fall, so all he did was clutch, hang pale, and drink the sight of the backward-turning machine and Mr Dark, alert at the controls, on the sidelines. It was Jim who first noticed the new thing happening, for he kicked Will, once, Will looked over, and Jim nodded frantically at the man in the machine as he came around the next time. Mr Cooger's face was melting like pink wax.His hands were becoming dolls hands.His bones sank away beneath his clothes; his clothes then shrank down to fit his dwindling frame. His face flickered going, and each time around he melted more.Will saw Jim's head shift, circling, The carousel wheeled, a great back-drifting lunar dream, the horse thrusting, the music in-grasped after, while Mr Coogar, as simple as shadows, as simple as light, as simple as time, got younger. And younger. And younger."" 'An old religious tract. Pastor Newgate Philips, I think. Read it as a boy. How does it go again?' He tried to remember. He liked his lips. He did remember 'For some, autumn comes early, stays late through life where October follows September and November touches October and then instead of December and Christ's birth, there is no Bethlehem Star, no rejoicing, but September comes again and old October and son on down the years, with no winter, spring, or revivifying summer. For these beings, fall is the ever normal season, the only weather, there be no choice beyond. Where do they come from? The grave. Does blood stir their veins? No: the night wind. What ticks in their head? The worm. What speaks from their mouth? The toad. What sees from their eye? The snake. What hears with their ear? The abyss between the stars. They sift the human storm for souls, eat flesh of reason, fill tombs with sinners. They frenzy forth. In guts they beetle-scurry, creep, thread, filter, motion, make all moons sullen, and surely cloud all clear-run waters. The spider-web hears them, trembles- breaks. Such as the autumn people. Beware of them.' "" 'Riding that merry-go round they shave off a year or two, any time they want, right?' 'Why, then--' The abyss opened at Wills feet -'they could live forever!' 'And hurt people.' Jim turned it over, again and again.'But why, why all the hurt?' 'Because,' said Mr Halloway.'You need fuel, gas, something to run a carnival on, don't you? Women live off gossip, and what's gossip but swap of headaches, sour spit, arthritic bones, ruptured and mended flesh, indiscretions, storms of madness, calms after the storms? If some people didn't have something juicy to chew on, their choppers would prolapse, theirs souls with them. Multiply their pleasure at funerals, their chuckling through breakfast obituaries, add all the cat-fight marriages where folks spend careers ripping skin off each other and patching it back upside around, add quack doctors slicing persons to read their guts like tea leaves, square the whole dynamite factory by ten quadrillion, and you got the black candlepower of this one carnival. 'All the meannesses we harbour, they borrow in redoubled spades. They're a billion times itchier for pain, sorrow, and sickness than the average man. We salt our lives with other peoples sins. Our flesh to us tastes sweet. But the carnival doesn't care if it stinks by moonlight instead of sun, so long as it gorges on fear and pain. That's the fuel, the vapor that spins the carousel, the raw stuffs of terror, the excruciating agony of guilt, the scream from real or imagined wounds. The carnival sucks that gas, ignites it, and chugs along its way.' ""Somewhere in the recumbent solitudes, the motionless but teeming millions of books, lost in two dozen turns right, three dozen turns left, down aisles, through corridors, toward dead ends, locked doors, half-empty shelves, somewhere in the literary soot of Dickens's London, or Dostoevsky's Moscow or the steppes beyond, somewhere in the vellumed dust of atlas or Geographic, sneezes pent but set like traps, the boys crouched, stood, lay sweating a cool and constant brine.Somewhere hidden, Jim thought: He's coming!Somewhere hidden, Will thought: He's near!'Boys....?' " Review also found @ http://more2read.com/review/something-wicked-way-comes-ray-bradbury/Sandi
This book is every bit as creepy as I remember. Bradbury's prose is exquisite. It mirrors the action in the novel perfectly. I loved the one sentence chapter. I don't think I ever really noticed the character of Charles Holloway when I was a kid, but he really is pretty amazing. He experiences more growth and change than the two boys. While this is supposed to be a coming of age story, the one who really becomes a man is Charlie. I'm definitely passing this on to my son.-------------------------------------------------------------My rating is subject to change. I read this book in junior high when I was reading everything by Ray Bradbury, Edgar Allen Poe and John Steinbeck. I remember an overwhelming sense of creepiness permeating the pages of this novel. I'm re-reading it for a Yahoo group I belong to.Doug
...his skin stealing the paleness from his bones... old... older... oldest...This book deserves a review. I read a couple reviews from some yahoo's on goodread. How can you say anything derogatory about bradbury? One critic asked why can't he just write "he walked down the street" without taking 3 paragraghs to say it? My response is: backhand, fronthand, backhand, fronthand. WHAT!!!??? why didn't Page just strum an A, then D, A and D instead of giving us a minute thirty of pure bliss at the beginning of gallows pole? Why didn't he just simple STRUM his stupid guitar instead of PULLING OUT A FREAKING VIOLIN STRING!!! and making that baby sing in No Quarter??? Why didn't Davinci just draw a stick figure with boobs and call it a day on the Mona Lisa? The nerve. The absolute nerve. Walking down the street? That's why he didn't just write walking down the street. Backhand, fronthand, backhand, fronthand. Spit. I hope the dust witch tracks you down and sews your eyes and hears shut! Now march! Left, right, left, right! Say hello boys!R.
I read this in the mid-80s, after half-watching the movie version. What caught my ear was Jason Robards saying, "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes."It's Shakespeare, I now know. But I thought it was just plain ol' folk wisdom when I heard it. Calling evil on the carpet with a bit of rhyme. The old, "I know you're here..." routine. Evil...hates it when you can front like that. Still, had to inter-library loan a copy. When it arrived, I spent several days on my grandparent's couch (I was a lazy child) reading it; getting up for cookies, crackers. Milk.Re-read it in the 00s. Seemed a lot smaller. Wrote the aging Bradbury a fan letter, telling him that his books were shrinking.A great October read. Always will be. Although, it is surpassed by From the Dust Returned for all-out Bradburian autumnal feel. Why? You know Jim and Will grow up and move on.The family...they've always been, always will. It's an easy fantasy to add to. Plus, the Charles Addams illustration on the wraparound cover...well, Something can't have everything, now can it?Gaijinmama
Ray Bradbury was a brilliant writer whose gift with the language goes beyond genre. This book is generally classified as a dark fantasy but his style is definitely Literary. I would not call this a page-turner. I had to keep going back to really savor the words and let them sink in. There are a lot of Big Issues here: good vs. evil, nostalgia for childhood, fear of death and the unknown. The main characters are Will and Jim, two 13 year old boys in a small town, but I would say the real focus is on Charles Halloway, Will's father, who is struggling with getting old and with his need to protect his son while still allowing him to grow up and be independent. A creepy traveling show comes to town, and the boys are drawn to it, while sensing that something is just not right....The style is equal parts Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, and Federico Fellini, with a dash of Hitchcockian suspense. More than the plot (which is engaging) I found myself just getting lost in the images, and feeling my heart speed up when the creepiness sneaked up on me.All in all, a good read but not a fluffy one. Give yourself time to fully appreciate it.Richard Wright
You know when you're reading a book and an unexpected turn of phrase, something resonant and powerful that lifts your imagination, jumps out at you. You might usually remember such a phrase, and recount it while trying to get your friends to pick up the book. Unfortunately, you have no hope of being able to do this with Bradbury's masterpiece, because every paragraph has one. Almost every sentence is one. The greatest, most disturbing, most uplifting novel ever to wheel out the freakshow for your entertainment (and never has the carnival been more poetically sinister than here), is also the most lyrical and haunting thing I've read in years. Initially, this very lyricism, lying so thick across the page, makes the book slow going when you're used to the modern idiom, but after a few chapters it makes your pulse race a little faster and sweeter. There might be better, more beautiful stories out there of boys coming of age, running headlong into the challenges of adulthood, but I've yet to find them.Jason
One thing I’ve noticed about a lot of young adult books and coming-of-age movies is a certain generational disconnect between the protagonist and his forebears. I guess in a lot of ways this is like noticing the absence of Indian food from a French cuisine cookbook, because why would anyone expect otherwise? If a story is to feature the youth perspective, then it should follow logically that his parents’ thoughts, ideas, and motivations factor into the story only peripherally. Right, Mikey? But in Something Wicked This Way Comes, that gap is bridged to a really interesting end.Something Wicked is the story of two kids scrambling to be a day, a month, a year older, and an aging parent reflecting on the nostalgia of his youth and perhaps wishing to shave a few years off his own accumulated tree rings. The desire here, in the former to be older and in the latter to be younger, serves to drive the characters’ behavior but does so at the expense of sound judgment; and the desire—not unlike Macbeth’s desire to become king—is shown to be inextricably bound to a sense of malevolence on account of that clouded judgment. In fact, the very title of this novel harks back to the opening scene of Macbeth, in which a witch (in which a witch!) intimates the evil nature residing in the main character, and I think that line subsequently calls attention to the potential within each of us for evil to be realized, provided we let it.The other thing I liked about this novel was Bradbury’s writing, which is almost entirely atmospheric and metaphorical. Deep forests, dark caves, dim churches, half-lit libraries were all the same, they tuned you down, they dampened your ardour, they brought you to murmurs and soft cries for fear of raising up phantom twins of your voice which might haunt corridors long after your passage. The imagery of the phantom twin as metaphor for an echo is pretty brilliant here, and Bradbury repeats this feat throughout the book. It probably also helped, with regard to timing, that I read this book in October, as the story takes place in the same month, for the descriptive voice seemed to lend an extra layer of reality to the story.Something I did not care for, however, was a scene at the end in which (view spoiler)[Will’s dad essentially beats the crap out of his son in an attempt to get him to “laugh” (in order to destroy the curse of the Illustrated Man) (hide spoiler)]. I don’t know about you, but I get riled up when someone simply says to me, “Lighten up, dude.” Because, don’t fucking tell me to lighten up. I could not imagine someone clocking me over the head, boxing my ears, and slapping my face as a forceful means of conjuring a smile. I bet you would not be very happy if someone were to do that to you, right? And what’s good enough for you, is good enough for me.Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>