Monday, September 6, 2010

Dollar Bin Book Review:Something Wicked This Way Comes

By Eric Polk of

"By The Turn of the Thumbs, Something Wicked This Way Comes."
Not only is this a quote from Shakespeare's MacBeth, but is partially used as the title of this 1962 novel from the great Ray Bradbury. When a hellish carnival comes to a small midwestern town, two boys, Jim Nightshade and William Holloway are thrown into a world where fantasies are paid with a price.

It begins with an encounter with an odd lightning rod salesman(on a personal note, another lightning rod salesman turns up in Stephen King's The Dead Zone) claiming a storm is coming.  Throughout that same night, Will and Jim meet up with townsfolk who also sense something in the air including  Will's father, Charles.

Charles and the boys learn about the carnival that is to start the next day. Will's father sees a sign in a store window that advertises Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show, and Jim and Will find a similar handbill in the street. The boys are excited that a carnival has come so late in the year, but Charles Halloway has a bad feeling about it.

The carnival is run by Mr. Dark, The Illustrated Man, and Mr. Cooger, who really ratchets up the tale's weirdness with a scene on the carousel. There's also Mr. Electrico(a man who has electricity running through him) and the mighty Dust Witch.

The boys soon discover there is more to this festival than meets the eye and soon are pursuited by Cooger and his minions.

This is a classic horror story albeit one that is not blood and guts(though there are a few violent scenes). There is a naivete to  Something Wicked. 'The best way to stop these folks is love', according to Charles which really is the novel's only glaring flaw. There's an article on this tale included in Stephen King's Danse Macabre if you're interested in further exploration on the hows and the whys. Or you can just pick up a copy.


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