When Ray Bradbury died at the age of 91 last June the book publishers, ever ready to capitalize on death and tragedy, rushed their stocks of Bradbury books to market.
Bradbury was one of America's best known writers of fantasy, horror, mystery, and, particularly, science fiction. He is best known for Fahrenheit 451, which was required reading when I was in high school back in the stone age, The Martian Chronicles and the Illustrated Man.
My favorite Bradbury book, however, is Something Wicked This Way Comes, and when Bradbury's books hit the book store shelves like a wave last June I picked up several paperbacks to have a good time re-reading this master story teller.
A good writer must have a good memory, not for his story line, but for the sights and sounds of the time he is writing about. This is what makes Stephen King so appealing. He remembers yesteryear vividly and is able to recreate it in his stories.
It is not the story line that makes this yarn so appealing to me. It is the characters, the two boys, who form the heart of this story. It is about the mournful tone of a distant train whistle, it is about the rustle of leaves at the end of August, it is about sneaking from the house in the dead of night and racing through the empty streets of the town.
It doesn't matter that this novel is a fanciful horror story that every adult knows isn't true. It is that it is a story that every boy can believe might be true in the recesses of his mind from whence come the fear and goosebumps of a good fright. Can you remember as a child your mind working you into a good fright with its imaginations?
I remember racing through darkened streets when my parents thought me sound asleep in my bed. I remember frghtening myself silly with some imagination or another, of streaking to my home and my friend streaking to his, afriad to turn around, sure that death and the devil were hard on our heals.
Something Wicked This Way Comes is a good story but perhaps it is a better peek back to when you were 11 years old.
Pick it up, read it, and be a child again. But before you begin? Lock all the doors, draw all the blinds, turn on every light in the house, and make sure your god is inside to protect you. That train whistle in the distance may portend a horror you weren't expecting.
Amazon says: Few American novels written this century have endured in th heart and mind as has this one-Ray Bradbury's incomparable masterwork of the dark fantastic. A carnival rolls in sometime after the midnight hour on a chill Midwestern October eve, ushering in Halloween a week before its time. A calliope's shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two inquisitive boys standing precariously on the brink of adulthood will soon discover the secret of the satanic raree-show's smoke, mazes, and mirrors, as they learn all too well the heavy cost of wishes -- andthe stuff of nightmare.
5 out of 5 Stars