“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes…”

Ray Bradbury’s writing is as mesmerising to look at as the setting sun, each word dazzling and exciting to the eye, with more depth gained the longer that you look. Something Wicked This Way Comes was my first taste of Bradbury’s writing, and my was it a sweet one.

Ray recalls a moment of significance in his childhood, that inspired him to become a writer was an encounter with a carnival magician named Mr. Electrico who commanded him to “Live forever!” From then on the cogs of Bradbury’s brain began whirring on the subject of eternal life, and thus this beauty was born. A plethora of themes are explored throughout this book with the effortless poetic style of Bradbury’s hand. The way he writes is both unique and sophisticated, and once into the flow, I was completely immersed within this special tale.

William Halloway and Jim Nightshade, young friends firmly locked in a symbiotic relationship: William the limited and Jim the limitless. Set in small town Americana, a week before Halloween, the thirteen year olds witness a frightful presence sweep into the town in the form of Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show. This sequence was when I first knew that I was reading something incredible. Bradbury’s description of the carnival’s entrance, told through the eyes of two fearful boys, peeping out round their houses in the dark third hour of a new day; what Mr Halloway refers to as “soul’s midnight”. Never had I felt more eerie and disturbed than reading how this carnival came into town…

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Poster for Disney’s 1983 movie Something Wicked This Way Comes Photo Source: disney.wikia.com

The next day, the pair venture out to find that the carnival is not so frightening in appearance when daylight shines down upon it, but looks can be deceiving; a core notion of the novel. They help pull their dazed seventh grade teacher, Miss Foley, out of the Mirror Maze; her reaction a big enough warning to get them intrigued. Later that day Will has to come to Jim’s rescue after he succumbs to his curiosity, and as they roam the carnival unwatched, they begin to unravel its secrets.

Ray Bradbury sets up a beautiful gang of freaks within the carnival led by The Illustrated man (Mr Dark- visually my brain was crackling away like firecrackers every time Ray conjures his presence in the story) and his partner Mr Cooger. Their descendants an intoxicating blend of Dust Witch, Dwarf and Skeleton when reading, every freak felt razor sharp in my imagination, as Will and Jim unknowingly tangle themselves further into the carnival Bradbury readily ramps up the tension holding your hopes and heart quite comfortably in his hand.

As I mentioned before, the number of themes and the depths in which they are explored both baffled me. The nature of death and what lies ahead and the futility of worrying about it whilst breathing, the age old battle of wanting to grow up but not wanting to lose your youth, the feeling of nostalgia, belief and fear…the list of things to be gained from reading this novel is endless.

 

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