Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is a classic dystopian novel (which I highly recommend), portraying a world in which literature is outlawed. Fahrenheit 451 being the temperature at which paper auto-ignites. Something wicked this way comes (1962) is another dark offering from Bradbury albeit with a greater element of fantasy.
The book centres around two teenage friends, Jim Nightshade and William Halloway, and the circus that comes to town. The friends discover that the latter is no ordinary circus and that the circus and its owner, Mr. Dark, have the ability to make their wishes come true. For the boys this means becoming older. However, there’s more to the wish fulfillment than meets the eye, as the boys discover to their cost as the circus comes hunting for them. Only themselves and Will’s father (who wants the opposite of what the boys desire – to become younger) can hope to keep the circus at bay and overcome its malevolent intent.
I read Something Wicked as I was in the mood for something dark, which the reviews suggested it was. I write this blog, however, in a somewhat confused state about the book. At times the language seemed overly descriptive and you want the author to just get on with it. At other times the prose is wonderfully poetic, capturing the magic and adventure of the circus coming to town and the boys sneaking out of the house to witness its arrival. There are real moments of excitement and tension, such as the when the circus comes after the boys, which had a really cinematic feel to them. Other dramatic moments however seemed confused and hard to picture. Perhaps this was on me rather than the author.
So while the book had some great moments, there were times where the book felt confused in what it wanted to be; a serious novel or something that would appeal to younger readers. I sense, however, that I’m not done with Something Wicked and that I may return to it at some point in the future.
On balance, I’d recommend it and, as ever, leave it up to you to make up your own mind.