Something Wicked Doesn’t Come This Way Anymore

something-wicked-this-way-comesI picked up the classic horror story “Something Wicked This Way Comes” from the master story teller Ray Bradbury expecting to be chilled by this well-known tale.  Instead, I was…well…bored.  Don’t get me wrong, the plot of the story, which follows two 12-year-old boys’ encounter with a demonic troop of carnival people, is pretty frightening.  I especially am creeped out by anything to do with circuses, carnivals, or the like, and this one had its particular dark characters: Mr Dark, the Illustrated Man, who is tattooed with the likenesses of the souls he has snatched, the Blind Dust Witch who can with a mere suggestion stop your heart, Mr. Electro who is dead one moment and alive the next. When this dark band of soulless misfits arrive in the small Mid-Western town, the boys discover their dark connections, but are convinced no one will believe what they have witnessed.  And what they have witnessed is the basis of many subsequent horror tales, for the message is clear that one should be careful what one wishes, for it might come true.  The weakness of the story now is the language.  The boys’ exclamations and dialogue is so stilted and unrealistic as to be laughable.  Bradbury stretches his thesaurus to its limit in reaching for every word to describe a storm, or the witch, or the fear of aging, or whatever topic is at hand to the point that I found myself flipping pages and skimming paragraphs just to get on with it.  His lexicon is almost Gogolian, in that he seems to use words in unusual or incorrect ways, but after a few chapters it is just tedious.  This is a classic which for this reader has not stood the test of time.  Perhaps we should put the book on the magical carousel and spin in backwards?

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Something Wicked Doesn’t Come This Way Anymore

  1. Barb

    I listened to a third of the book while driving, and I found myself drifting off (not literally!). It did sound as if it was written in the 60’s — Wally and Beaver in a bad dream! I returned it to the library before I really did run off the road from snoozing.

  2. Glad I’m not the only one who didn’t instantly love this classic. I was especially put off by what you aptly called the “Wally and Beaver” language. Too funny.

  3. I remember reading this as a young teenager and being rather terrified by the whole thing. But like most books we read in our teenage years when re-read later in life they only disappoint.

  4. As always, thanks for your comments, Christopher. I know a lot of the big, important books of my youth have not stood the test of time when I went back for a re-read. Some have.

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