Skip to main content

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Originally published in November 2004, in 2 parts.
Book 39 in my first 52 books challenge.

Author: Ray Bradbury
Year published: 1962
Pages: 215
Genre: Horror
Where got: Second hand shop

By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes
William Shakespeare: Macbeth, act 4, scene 1

I was only familiar with Ray Bradbury as a TV scriptwriter until a few years ago when I read a short story by him that appeared in an anthology of funny science fiction stories. Then I found this book while browsing in the Red Cross charity shop in Reykjavik, liked the Shakespearian title, and bought it. It’s been sitting on my TBR shelf for several months and I think it's about time I read it.

The Story:
Will and Jim, two teenage friends who live in a town somewhere in the USA, witness the arrival of a mysterious and creepy carnival in the dead of an autumn night, long after the carnival season has ended. They witness something terrifying in the carnival grounds after closing time and one of them accidentally harms one of the carnival directors, and as a result they are hunted through the town by the carnival people, a collection of twisted and tortured freaks who have themselves fallen prey to the dark carnival and become its slaves.

Technique and plot:
In this book, Ray Bradbury took something that many people these days find innocuous and perhaps a bit tawdry, but which less than a century ago was indeed quite terrifying to any right-minded person: a side-show carnival. Old-time side-show carnivals were full of people whose appearance made it impossible for them to live ordinary lives, and although some of the side-acts were fakes, many were quite real, a pathetic collection of diseased, disabled and deformed people who were put on show like animals in a zoo. Bradbury is old enough to have seen such side-shows and has taken their more nightmarish aspects and woven them into a fine tale of good versus evil.

The narrative style is poetic and eloquent, rich, full of meaning and laden by turns with menace and hope. It is hardly the kind of language one expects from a horror story, which makes the horror all the more effective. The freaks are both pathetic and scary, the horror is just as much psychological as it is visual, and while the worst of the bad are pure evil, the good and just have a dark side that sometimes makes it hard for them to judge correctly what is right and what is wrong, and which makes them real and believable. The plot moves along slowly at first and then begins rolling along faster and faster, until it reaches a frenzied climax.

Rating: A fine tale of horror and friendship, family ties and things that go ‘bump’ in the night. 4+ stars.


Popular posts from this blog

How to make a simple origami bookmark

Here are some instructions on how to make a simple origami (paper folding) bookmark:

Take a square of paper. It can be patterned origami paper, gift paper or even office paper, just as long as it’s easy to fold. The square should not be much bigger than 10 cm/4 inches across, unless you intend to use the mark for a big book. The images show what the paper should look like after you follow each step of the instructions. The two sides of the paper are shown in different colours to make things easier, and the edges and fold lines are shown as black lines.

Fold the paper in half diagonally (corner to corner), and then unfold. Repeat with the other two corners. This is to find the middle and to make the rest of the folding easier. If the paper is thick or stiff it can help to reverse the folds.

Fold three of the corners in so that they meet in the middle. You now have a piece of paper resembling an open envelope. For the next two steps, ignore the flap.

Fold the square diagonally in two. You…

Reading report for January 2014

Here it is, finally: the reading report for January. (February‘s report is in the works: I have it entered into Excel and I just need to transfer it into Word, edit the layout and write the preface. It will either take a couple of days or a couple of months).

I finished 26 books in January, although admittedly a number of them were novellas. As I mentioned in my previous post, I delved into a new(ish) type of genre: gay (or M/M) romance. I found everything from genuinely sweet romance to hardcore BDSM, in sub-genres like fantasy, suspense and mystery and even a quartet of entertaining (and unlikely) rock star romances. Other books I read in January include the highly enjoyable memoir of cooking doyenne Julia Child, two straight romances, and Jennifer Worth‘s trilogy of memoirs about her experiences as a midwife in a London slum in the 1950s. I also watched the first season of the TV series based on these books and may (I say 'may') write something about this when I have finis…

List love: A growing list of recommended books with elderly protagonists or significant elderly characters

I think it's about time I posted this, as I have been working on it for a couple of months.
I feel there isn’t enough fiction written about the elderly, or at least about the elderly as protagonists. The elderly in fiction tend to be supporting characters, often wise elders (such as  Dumbledore in the Harry Potter books) or cranky old neighbour types (e.g. the faculty of Unseen University in the Discworld series) or helpless oldsters (any number of books, especially children’s books) for the protagonist to either help or abuse (depending on whether they’re a hero or not).
Terry Pratchett has written several of my favourite elderly protagonists and they always kick ass in one way or another, so you will see several of his books on this list, either as listed items or ‘also’ mentions.
Without further ado: Here is a list of books with elderly protagonists or significant, important elderly characters. I leave it up to you to decide if you’re interested or not, but I certainly enjoyed…