This was certainly a big change from the last book, On The Road. I’m a huge fan of Ray Bradbury, I read Fahrenheit 451 back in high school and loved it. He’s not exactly subtle with symbolism, but he knows how to engage a reader and develop an interesting plot.
Something Wicked This Way Comes tells a story about a carnival coming to a small town. Jim and Will, two of the main characters, quickly discover the evil that lies within the owners of the carnival and the carnival itself. Mr. Dark, also known as ‘The Illustrated Man,’ and Mr. Cooger are the owners of the carnival and Mr. Halloway, Will’s father, learns that this carnival has been coming into town every 20 years for decades. Their secret? The carousel, a part of the carnival that is not open to customers, makes you younger when you ride in reverse (but also older when going forward). By only coming into a town every 20 years, the people living there forget the details of the carnival and thus Mr. Dark and Mr. Cooger can live forever.
That is, until Jim and the Halloways discover the secrets of the carnival and are able to defeat the forces of evil and close down the carnival forever. They do this primarily through laughter, but also straight up murder of Mr. Dark…
I thoroughly enjoyed book, though I will say the ending wasn’t as exciting as I was hoping for. Still very entertaining, though. I learned in the Afterword that Ray Bradbury wrote this with the hopes of it becoming a movie in the future, which it did in 1983, about 20 years after being published. I watched the trailer and some of the scenes were identical to the book so I’m looking forward to watching that soon.
And some quotes…
“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.”
“So that man, the first one, knew what we know now: our hour is short, eternity is long. With this knowledge came pity and mercy, so we spared others for the later, more intricate, more mysterious benefits of love.”
“We can’t be good unless we know what bad is…”
“Somehow, irresistibly, the prime thing was: nothing mattered. Life in the end seemed a prank of such size you could only stand off at this end of the corridor to note its meaningless length and it’s quite unnecessary height, a mountain built to such ridiculous immensities you were dwarfed in its shadow and mocking of its pomp. “
“Evil has only the power we give it.”
“Is Death important? No. Everything that happens before Death is what counts.”
Next up, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson…