Something Wicked This Way Comes feels like Stephen King and Neil Gaiman sat down and wrote a project together… which since the book was published in 1962 i guess a better way to phrase that would be that Something Wicked feels like it should be a notable influence on the work of King and Gaiman.
We follow two boys in a small town in America in an age that has since moved on. An age when traveling circuses and carnivals moved around and set up temporary shop outside of towns for a week or so. An age when young boys left the house in the morning and played unsupervised until dinner time. The book proves to be both a glimpse into a world that no longer exists and a deep stare into the fears that plauge us.
Something Wicked is delightlfully surreal. The carnival rolls into town but arrives with odd and ominous portents of it’s true dark nature. A magic carosel features prominently in the story, a ride on this carosel is able to effect the age of the rider as they revolve around on it’s carved horses, either moving you forward or reversing the aging process. This proves to be a source of temptation for several charaters in the novel, including one of the main ones! As i continue to age, and especially now that a new tiny-human is a part of my life, aging is very much in the forefront of my mind many days. A recent trip with my own aging father highlighted the gravity of the passage of time on the human body even more. So i’ve read this book at a time in my life when this magical carosel is of extreme interest to me!
In short this roving band of supernatural and evil carneys come to town looking for the “food” they need… the essence and life-force of life itself. Our two main protagonists are both tempted and terrorized by the creepy carnival hands and their leader.
In the end one of the boys own aging fathers (he’s not old, just older than the father of a boy that age should be- yet another thing i can relate intimatly to right now) cracks the mystery of defeating the evil carneys and winds up in the end saving the day and the town (although the town is mostly unaware of the danger they were really in).
Book Club of One Score: Solid B: Bradbury does a great job painting this dark tale on the stark contrast of such a wholesome backdrop. Its a pretty easy read overall and dips into heavy enough subject matter that while not taking long to read it still sticks in my brain and gives me pause. It has a slight YA feel overall, which i like in a book from time to time (even as a grown man). Pick it up and give this one a go!