Something Wicked This Way ComesSomething Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of my most personally influential books ever, I first read “Something Wicked This Way Comes” in fifth grade in our ad-hoc honors English program taught by Mrs. Clark. This is the same Mrs. Clark who encouraged me to audition for the local playmakers production of “Oliver,” and when I said I didn’t know any of the songs in the musical, said to me, “Well, just sing Happy Birthday, then.” I did, and got the much coveted role of Orphan and Fagin’s boy. This is the same Mrs. Clark who staged a small-time production of a play called, “The Miss Witch Contest.” After I noticed that there were virtually no good male roles, I asked whether I could audition for the Queen Witch? She thought a moment, then said, “Why not?” The rest is history, and though I may have made myself somewhat of a fifth grade outcast, I nevertheless shone in her eyes, and that meant ever so much to me, then and now.

Ray Bradbury is a masterful storyteller, and in “Something Wicked This Way Comes” teaches us about the nature of evil, and our need to come to terms with mortality, all while situating his story within the fantasy realm of a wicked carnival which has come to town. Two boys, Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade, are best friends, virtually the same age, and are inexorably drawn to the spectacle and the lure of darkness, the strange scent evil sends off which alternately attracts and repels. This story, without ever moralizing, teaches us how to confront darkness, both the darkness outside and within us, and also shows us the temptation to take the easy way out, especially if we’re given the opportunity to make a deal with the dark side of human nature to extend our lives to an unnatural length, all at the cost of our soul.

I had avoided rereading this book for many years now because I feared it would not live up to the way it impacted my fifth grade mind. I never looked at a carnival the same way, and have always been fascinated by their here-today, gone-tomorrow nature. Something that breezes into town on a stiff wind to tempt us with its many lurid technicolor and cotton candy sweet offerings. Rereading this book didn’t disappoint in the slightest, and I was amazed, as someone who’s attempting to be a writer myself, at the complexity of what is conveyed in a deceptively simple tale.

I rarely say this: rush out and read this! You will appreciate the simplicity and intricacies of your life all that much more.

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