One of Ray Bradbury’s best-known and most popular novels, Something Wicked This Way Comes, now featuring a new introduction and material about its longstanding influence on culture and genre.
For those who still dream and remember, for those yet to experience the hypnotic power of its dark poetry, step inside. The show is about to begin. Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. A calliope’s shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. Two boys will discover the secret of its smoke, mazes, and mirrors; two friends who will soon know all too well the heavy cost of wishes…and the stuff of nightmares.
Few novels have endured in the heart and memory as has Ray Bradbury’s unparalleled literary masterpiece Something Wicked This Way Comes. Scary and suspenseful, it is a timeless classic in the American canon.
Something Wicked This Way Comes – A Review (Part 3)
Part 2: Departures
The end game begins with the two boys completely under the influence of Mr Dark. They are frogmarched through town, as if they’re being shown off, and they are unable to do anything but comply. They are taken to the carnival where Mr Dark gathers the crowd for one last trick of the night – the infamous bullet trick. He asks for a volunteer to fire the weapon. There are seemingly no takers… then Will’s father steps forward.
It’s a wonderful moment. I almost felt like cheering. And now we come to the face-off. With the help of the crowd, Will’s father manages to free Will from the carnival’s clutches long enough to get him by his side to help aim the weapon. It’s a wonderfully tense scene, and we can almost see Mr Dar begin to sweat. Things aren’t quite going his way. And things get worse for the carnival. Using the crowd’s laughter, Will’s father takes his shot… and kills the Dust Witch.
The dad and Will flee into the mirror maze to search for Jim, another wonderfully tense little scene where Dad looks to son and son looks to Dad and they see they are mirror images of each other.
“And then, at last, he gave the maze, the mirrors, and all Time ahead, Beyond, Around, Above, Behind, Beneath or squandered inside himself, the only answer possible.”
Dad laughs, and the maze trembles. He takes note, and laughs again, the spell of the carnival finally broken.
The mirror maze collapses in shards and fragments. Jim is not among them; he is running in the dark as the carnival closes down, with both the autumn people and Dad and Will looking for him.
They find Jim at the carousel. Jim takes the ride into his future, still under the carnival’s influence, but is stopped and thrown off by Will’s love for her, leaving Jim in a stupor on the grass with Will watching over him while Dad heads for a final confrontation with Mr Dark.
It all comes down to this; a father standing between the boys and the darkness.
Mr Dark has disguised himself as another boy, but Dad sees through him, sees his fears. He hugs the boys close, the power of love starving the dark. The boy succumbs, the carnival falls with him… but Jim is still in a death-like trance.
But Dad knows what is needed. Joy and laughter will bring the boy back; he gets Will to join him in capering and singing and dancing. The power of their love and joy brings Jim back to them.
“They yanked Jim. Jim flew. Jim came down dancing.”
The carnival has fallen to ruin around them. Only the carousel remains, a last temptation for all three of them. They turn their backs on it, and make for home.
“Then, as the moon watched, the three of them together left the wilderness behind and walked into the town.”
I thoroughly enjoyed this reading, and I hope you’ve enjoyed my real-time walk through it.
I’m older now than Will’s dad in the book, and it’s a different experience reading it now than it was when I was Will’s age. The nostalgia factor is strong now, and Will’s dad’s thoughts on aging and death resonate strongly. But as ever with Bradbury, it’s the magic that’s the thing, magic that brings back youth.
And I feel young again.
Boo-ology: William Meikle is a Scottish writer, now living in Canada, with more than twenty five novels published in the genre, and over 300 short story credits in thirteen countries. His work has appeared in a number of professional anthologies. When he is not writing, he plays guitar, drinks beer, and dreams of forture and glory.