I hosted book club this month and I chose to read a “spooky” book. But, I actually wanted people to read it, so knowing the other ladies in my book club, steered clear of Stephen King novels (though I’ve never read one and might someday). I’ve also started reading Dracula, but haven’t finished it (it’s on my kindle and is a work-in-progress) and thought it still might be too creepy.
I remembered back to my youth and truck driving with my dad. He had several books on tape and things we would listen to. And one of my favorite things to listen to were Ray Bradbury short stories. I still vividly remember several of those stories. So, I decided we would read a Ray Bradbury book and chose his novel “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”
Something Wicked This Way Comes Book Review
Something Wicked This Way Comes (a line from Shakespeare) is about two boys who are best friends, next door neighbors, and who almost share the same birthday (of Halloween). Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade often sneak out of their houses together at night, and go on wild adventures, being ever so in tune with each other, even as they run around town.
When a spooky carnival rolls into town in the middle of the night, post-season, the boys venture into the frosty air and investigate. As the carnival stays for several days, weird things start happen to different people from town, and people start to go missing. The Merry-go-Round is luring people with it backward calliope tune, urging people to (literally) turn back time. But, little do they know that youth doesn’t prove to be the blessing they think it would be.
After Will and Jim see one of the owners turn into a young boy, and then later see him grow into an old, old, old man, their lives are at stake as the other owner of the carnival, Mr. Dark, the Illustrated Man, and his blind witch chase them around time. Will seeks help from his “old man” who in turn must learn to conquer his own yearning for youth.
What I loved about this story is the change that takes place in Will Halloway and his father’s relationship. His gray-haired, library janitor, father thinks he is too old to be a good, involved father with his 13 year old son who he had later in life. The boy finds his father quiet and boring. By the end of the book, that is completely different.
I thought the book was very fun overall, though not necessarily very scary or creepy. Strange things happen, and a carnival of freaks and their supernatural powers and oddities certainly make it a great Halloween read.
Something Wicked This Way Comes Book Club Questions
- What did you think of the writing style? It’s different – emotionally charged, and told from a teenagers’ perspective. Did you get used to it? Did you like it eventually? Why do you think it is written in such a manner? What do you think is the target age group of the book?
- Do you like Mr. Halloway in the beginning? What do you think of his relationship with Will? What role do you think his occupation plays in the story?
- What do you think about Will and Jim’s relationship? Do you like that they are adventurous, run everywhere, and sneak out at night? Did you do that as a youth? Did you have a friend like that? How do you think the carnival affected their relationship?
- What is the significance of the library in this story? Of Mr. Halloway being a janitor there? Is it a sort of “temple”?
- Do you like carnivals? Have you ever been to a “Freak Show”?
- Would you like to go for a spin on the Merry-go-Round and which direction would you go? Would you risk it, even though your mind stays the same?
- Why do you think so many are drawn to the carnival? Who’s drawn to it? What do you think they were seeking?
- Why was the Illustrated Man, Mr. Dark, so intent on getting Will and Jim?
- What was the significance of the lightning rod in the beginning of the book? Did lightning strike? Was it a good opening to this story?
- What about the “Most Beautiful Woman in the World”? Was she the woman stuck in the glass?
- Are the freaks good or bad? Or are they just victims of the carnival?
- If Mr. Dark is the epitome of evil/wickedness, what do we learn about the nature of evil?
- Why do you think laughter was the key to winning against the evil? Could you have found the humor in this situation? What would you do if something wicked was after you?
Book club treat ideas for SSomething Wicked This Way Comes (Fall/Halloween/Carnival)
- Cotton Candy
- Elephant Ears
- Cinnamon Roasted Almonds/Nuts
- Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
- Hot Chocolate
- Hot Apple Cider
- Funnel Cakes
- Dippin’ Dots
- Ice Cream Sandwiches/Bars
- Popcorn – Butter, Caramel, or Kettle
- Caramel Apples
- Snow Cones
- Gum Balls and Candies