Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes is a coming of age novel laced with sinister horror and extreme suspense.
The novel centres around two teenage boys, Jim Nightshade and William Halloway, who come across a mysterious carnival that arrives out of the blue one October. The carnival belongs to the rather weird Mr Dark, who is a tattooed and mysterious gent that turns out to be not at all who he seems.
I started out really enjoying this book. The protagonists are quite easy to like and you want to know what on earth these two troublesome teens will be getting up to next. Initially they are approached by a lightening rod sales man which was what really hooked me into the story. It was so unusual and quite frankly odd that I HAD to know who he was and why he was so interested in the boys. The story tells of how Will and Jim learn that the carnival is the place of nightmares as it destroys the people who enter it with it's age-reversing carousel and horrifying house of mirrors. Will and Jim try to escape the carnival however Mr Dark has other plans for the boys which they cannot escape from.
The introduction of the carnival was fantastic. You could really picture the grotesque nature of the freaks inside it and the anxiety the carnival caused in people. The book itself is genuinely terrifying and the emotions are portrayed in a way that if you were there in real life, you'd want to run away from the negativity it all. Will's father is a fantastic character. He is in his fifties but thinks he is too old to be a father to a 13 year old boy however it turns out that, despite all his flaws, he is quite an ingenious man who is a great role model for Will and Jim.
As I continued to read, I felt a bit lost. The book is complicated and has lots of metaphors weaved throughout the text. From my reading I gathered that these were representative of the problems with growing up and the desire for things we simply cannot have. Or, to put it more appropriately, the desires men have.
Now I not trying to pull the sexist card but this story does revolve heavily around males. The women that are mentioned are Will's mom who comes across as an air-head frankly (although Will does care for her a lot) and an evil witch who causes havoc with her toxic sludge dumping hot air balloon (that is exactly how it sounds and nothing else). I don't think the focus of this book is gender roles however it is hard not to notice the distinct lack of females in the novel and it is a bit off putting; even the majority of the carnival members are men.
I started off loving this book. I like Ray Bradbury's previous work but this was just way too metaphorical for my reading on the train to work. If you like sinister books full of fantasy and twists then I do recommend this book but I highly suggest you sit down with no distractions to read this book - it can be a challenge at times!