“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”  – says one of the witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Ray Bradbury is known for his rather nostalgic and often small-town view of the world – and of other worlds too.  But his novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes is much darker.

If his novel Dandelion Wine (which I have written about before here) is a novel of summer, then Something Wicked This Way Comes is his novel of autumn. It is one to read on a day when you might need a sweater or blanket over your feet

In it, a carnival rolls into town sometime after midnight. It is a week before Halloween. The calliope plays a song that lures the young people of Green Town, Illinois to Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show.

We follow two boys, friends who discover what can happen when wishes and dream come true but turn out to be nightmares.

The novel is a modern Gothic tale. Those young boys, James Nightshade and William Halloway, and the  dark carnival of autumn intrigued and frightened me when I first read it one October night when I was 12. Coincidence? Synchronicity?

It you wanted a Bradbury summer of reading, I would suggest your third choice be Something Wicked This Way Comes takes its title from Macbeth, and you know something wicked is certainly coming. Mr. Dark shows our dark side to us. Mr. Dark with his tattoos, one for each person he has given their secret fantasy. And each of them in return is now part of the carnival.

I recommend the book, but the film version of Something Wicked This Way Comes is also very good. I still see it listed as a children’s film sometimes (it was made by Disney) but I would pre-screen it before showing it to kids – though it might make a good, scary Halloween movie night.


Ray Bradbury Official Site