Something Wicked This Way Comes

Something Wicked This Way Comes

4.0 177
by Ray Bradbury

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The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. The shrill siren song of a calliope beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two…  See more details below


The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. The shrill siren song of a calliope beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two boys will discover the secret of its smoke, mazes, and mirrors; two friends who will soon know all too well the heavy cost of wishes. . .and the stuff of nightmare.

Few American novels written this century have endured in the heart and memory as has Ray Bradbury's unparalleled literary classic SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. For those who still dream and remember, for those yet to experience the hypnotic power of its dark poetry, step inside. The show is about to begin.The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. The shrill siren song of a calliope beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two boys will discover the secret of its smoke, mazes, and mirrors; two friends who will soon know all too well the heavy cost of wishes. . .and the stuff of nightmare.

Few American novels written this century have endured in the heart and memory as has Ray Bradbury's unparalleled literary classic SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. For those who still dream and remember, for those yet to experience the hypnotic power of its dark poetry, step inside. The show is about to begin.

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Editorial Reviews

Chicago Tribune
"Ray Bradbury can evoke nostalgia for a mythic, golden past or raise goosebumps with tales of horror... He is very good at what he does."
Portland Oregonian
"A master... Bradburyhas a style all his own, much imitated but never matched."
Flint Journal
"Bradbuy crosses over the ines that divide various genres... His true vocation is that of spinning yarns, some fanciful, others morbid, and yet others laced with an undeniable sense of hope."
Nashville Tennessean
"In literary circles, Ray Bradbury can validly be called a living legend... Since he was eight years old, he wanted to become amagician. And that's what he is."
Bradbury is an authentic original. --Time
From the Publisher
"Bradbury's classic 1962 novel is here masterfully read by voice artist Kevin Foley, whose deep tones are well suited to the story's dark characters." ---Library Journal Starred Audio Review

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.76(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


The seller of lightning rods arrived just ahead of the storm. He came along the street of Green Town, Illinois, in the late cloudy October day, sneaking glances over his shoulder. Somewhere not so far back, vast lightnings stomped the earth. Somewhere, a storm like a great beast with terrible teeth could not be denied.

So the salesman jangled and clanged his huge leather kit in which oversized puzzles of ironmongery lay unseen but which his tongue conjured from door to door until he came at last to a lawn which was cut all wrong.

No, not the grass. The salesman lifted his gaze. But two boys, far up the gentle slope, lying on the grass. Of a like size and general shape, the boys sat carving twig whistles, talking of olden or future times, content with having left their fingerprints on every movable object in Green Town during summer past and their footprints on every open path between here and the lake and there and the river since school began.

"Howdy, boys!" called the man all dressed in stormcolored clothes. "Folks home?"

The boys shook their heads.

"Got any money, yourselves?"

The boys shook their heads.

"Well --" The salesman walked about three feet, stopped and hunched his shoulders. Suddenly he seemed aware of house windows or the cold sky staring at his neck. He turned slowly, sniffing the air. Wind rattled the empty trees. Sunlight, breaking through a small rift in the clouds, minted a last few oak leaves all gold. But the sun vanished, the coins were spent, the air blew gray; the salesman shook himself from the spell.

The salesman edged slowly up thelawn.

"Boy," he said. "What's your name?"

And the first boy, with hair as blond-white as milk thistle, shut up one eye, tilted his head, and looked at the salesman with a single eye as open, bright and clear as a drop of summer rain.

"Will," he said. "William Halloway."

'Me storm gentleman turned. "And you?"

The second boy did not move, but lay stomach down on the autumn grass, debating as if he might make up a name. His hair was wild, thick, and the glossy color of waxed chestnuts. His eyes, fixed to some distant point within himself, were mint rock-crystal green. At last he put a blade of dry grass in his casual mouth.

"Jim Nightshade," he said.

The storm salesman nodded as if he had known it all along.

"Nightshade. That's quite a name."

"And only fitting," said Will Halloway. I was born one minute before midnight, October thirtieth. Jim was born one minute after midnight, which makes it October thirty-first."

"Halloween," said Jim.

By their voices, the boys had told the tale all their lives, proud of their mothers, living house next to house, running for the hospital together, bringing sons into the world seconds apart; one light, one dark . There was a history of mu mutual celebration behind them. Each year Will lit the candles on a single cake at one minute to midnight. Jim, at one minute after, with the last day of the month begun, blew them out.

So much Will said, excitedly. So much Jim agreed to, silently. So much the salesman, running before the storm, but poised here uncertainly, heard looking from face to face.

"Halloway. Nightshade. No money, you say?"

The man, grieved by his own conscientiousness, rummaged in his leathery bag and seized forth an iron contraption.

"Take this, free! Why? One of those houses will be struck by lightning! Without this rod, bang'. Fire and ash, roast pork and cinders! Grab!"

The salesman released the rod. Jim did not move, But Will caught the iron and gasped.

"Boy, it's heavy!. And funny-looking. Never seen a lightning rod like this. Look, Jim!"

And Jim, at last, stretched like a cat, and turned his head. His green eyes got big and then very narrow.

The metal thing was hammered and shaped half-crescent, half-cross. Around the rim of the main rod little curlicues and doohingies had been soldered on, later. The entire surface of the rod was finely scratched and etched with strange languages, names that could tie the tongue or break the jaw, numerals that added to incomprehensible sums, pictographs of insect-animals all bristle, chaff, and claw.

"That's Egyptian." Jim pointed his nose at a bug soldered to the iron. "Scarab beetle."

"So it is, boy."

Jim squinted. "And those there -- Phoenician hen tracks."


"Why?" asked Jim.

"Why?" said the man. "Why the Egyptian, Arabic, Abyssinian, Choctaw? Well, what tongue does the wind talk? What nationality is a storm? What country do rains come from? What color is lightning? Where does thunder go when it dies? Boys, you got to be ready in every dialect with every shape and form to hex the St. Elmo's fires, the balls of blue light that prowl the earth like sizzling cats. I got the only lightning rods in the world that hear, feel, know, and sass back any storm, no matter what tongue, voice, or sign. No foreign thunder so loud this rod can't soft-talk it!"

But Will was staring beyond the man now.

"Which," he said. "Which house will it strike?"

"Which? Hold on. Wait." The salesman searched deep in their faces. "Some folks draw lightning, suck it like cats suck babies' breath. Some folks' polarities are negative, some positive. Some glow in the dark. Some snuff out. You now, the two of you ... I --"

"What makes you so sure lightning will strike anywhere around here?" said Jim suddenly, his eyes bright.

The salesman almost flinched. "Why, I got a nose, an eye, an ear. Both those houses, their timbers! Listen!"

They listened. Maybe their houses leaned under the cool afternoon wind, Maybe not.

"Lightning needs channels, like rivers, to run in. One of those attics is a dry river bottom, itching to let lightning pour through! Tonight...

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Bradbury's classic 1962 novel is here masterfully read by voice artist Kevin Foley, whose deep tones are well suited to the story's dark characters." —-Library Journal Starred Audio Review

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Something Wicked This Way Comes 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 177 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like fiction, friendship, mystery and suspense I strongly recommend for you to read Something Wicked This Way Comes. I enjoyed this book so much. When you think something is going to happen, something else actually happens.They setting took place in strange and various places. The setting I most enjoyed was the carnival. All the spooky things going t on there were nice to read.Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway are the main characters followed by Charles Halloway, Mr. Dark, and Mr. Cooger. While you read this book you will find out about other characters that during the story they oddly disappear. Jim and Will face the most unpredictable things you have ever seen. My favorite character in the story is Jim because he is brave, older than Will, and always wants to know more in everything he sees or does. The plot is full of suspense. The author, Ray Bradbury did a great job explaining it. The most important plot took place at the carousel. The carousel is where the most important events take place and where the mysterious things happen. My favorite setting of the plot was in the library. That is where Jim and Will are hiding from Mr. Dark because Mr. Dark found out something about them.The book might get kind of weird and freaky, but you will really enjoy it. I really like this book. There is a lot of exciting things that go on in this book and I know you would not want to miss them. I hardly recommend it!
dj46 More than 1 year ago
Donovan Berry Per: 5/ Sautner 9/15/09 Book review Something Wicked This Way Comes Ray Bradbury is an amazing author and his book Something Wicked This Way Comes is one of his most impressive books. The story is about a carnival that comes to Green Town, Illinois. Two boys whom live there, Jim Nightshade and William Halloway have a bad feeling about the carnival and its owners, Mr. Dark and Mr. Cooger, however they can't prove it to anyone and no one is listening to them. They eventually tell Will's dad, a janitor at the local library, and he believes them. The three of them fearing that if they don't do something soon the carnival will take over Green Town and its inhabitants, must fight the carnival and its owners. Ray Bradbury does an amazing job of keeping the suspense in this book and making you want to read more. On the other hand the book can get confusing at parts and is sometimes difficult to read. I liked the book for its suspense and for the fact that it makes people look inside themselves to discover if they could in essence be like Mr. Dark and Mr. Cooger. I believe the message to take from this book is that life is full of obstacles and it's just a matter of overcoming them. I also believe that the author is trying to tell us that there is a way to overcome any challenge and that you can never give up or you won't succeed. I will take away from this book the message that just because you don't think you can do something doesn't mean you can't and it is important to keep on going. "By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes." I believe ray Bradbury did an amazing job writing this book and I encourage all people to read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like something creepy, out of the ordinary, scary, freaks and freak shows, and complicated books, then you are going to like Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. This book is pretty interesting but really complicated at the same time!!!!!!! It takes place in Greentown, Illinois 'a smallish town', somewhere in the present around October, the time of Halloween! The author describes the setting really good that it actually makes you believe you are experiencing the same thing all of the characters are at the same time, which sometimes can be a little bit confusing¿..he also uses a lot of metaphors in the whole book!!! The book it¿s mainly about the issues Jim and Will, the main characters, have, and yes everything has to do with ¿freak shows¿ and its ¿freaks¿ they are called ¿Mr. Dark and Mr. Crooger¿ a freak show parade that comes into town and its Will¿s and Jim¿s problem resource. This book it¿s also about saving a precious friendship and the lives these two boys love the most and really care about. Even the verse in Proverbs 4:16-17 describes the plot pretty good¿ says ¿They sleep not, except they have done mischief, and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness. And drink the wine of violence.¿ I know this is kind of confusing but if you don¿t understand this then please don¿t, please don¿t read this book because this is the kind of complicated Im talking about. Now if you do like this kind of books then I totally recommend it to you!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bradbury began his career (and his paychecks as a writer) with an emphasis on horror - see The October Country - and this wonderful novel can be considered the apex of his early work. It weaves into the horror the strong nostalgic thread of his boyhood memories - see Dandelion Wine. I read this book when I was 10, now I'm 50 and this is the 4th or 5th time I'm reading this magical tale.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Peer Book Review Will, James, and Charles are the stars in this fiction and mystery packed tall. James and Will are best friends and have been for ever. Charles Halloway (Will¿s dad) joins them in their action packed adventure and helps defeat the evil Mr. Dark. Ray Bradbury really made Something Wicked This Way Comes a very excellent fantasy book. He emphasized Will and James friendship. They acted like twin brothers and could never leave each others sight. I can relate to that because I have a twin sister that I could never let out of my sight, but now that she is gone to a boarding school in Dallas, I have gotten used to it. I like this book and would give it and 4 out of 5. If you like reading about historical facts and biographies or journals, this book is not for you. This is more of an adventure book. This text is not that difficult at the end but I was a little confused at the beginning. This is a great book and I give it a TWO THUMBS UP!
Jennifer24 More than 1 year ago
Creepy, compelling, and all-in-all a good read. Highly recommend.
san_carlos_skater More than 1 year ago
My favorite chapter in Something Wicked This Way Comes is chapter 54. I liked this chapter because it is sad, shocking, suspenseful, and a little scary. The author uses a lot of imagery throughout the entire book. I liked this because it gave you a real feel for everything going on. It helped you feel what the characters were feeling in the book. The author, Ray Bradbury, didn't do a lot that I didn't like in this book. It wasn't my favorite book, but it was a good read. I liked this book. It has a very unique style, and it made me want to keep reading. I think this book is appropriate for ages 14 and up.
No-Hair-Man More than 1 year ago
Perhaps the best book of its kind ever written. It is just plain spooky without the violence like you see in so many horor book today (such as Stephen King e.g)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Okay, this isn't a short book, but I read it in one day. I loved it. First of all, any book about Halloween is good, so this was excellent. The way Bradbury writes is a spell-binding. It's a blend of metaphoric poetry and thoughts of the youthful conscience. Anyone should read this!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The plot of Something Wicked This Way Comes is about two boys that know about a haunted carnival. The carnival kills anyone who rides any of the rides. It turns them younger and they eventually die. The two boys which are Will and Jim have to stop Mr. Dark, the evil carnival owner, from causing chaos around the town. The setting of the book seems to be a while back because in this book carnivals are very popular and there isn¿t as much technology as we have today. The three main characters of Something Wicked This Way Comes are Jim, Will, and Mr. Dark. Jim and Will get involved with Mr. Darks¿ carnival because they wanted to get on a ride. There was a man that went up first and when he did Jim and Will started to see him turn younger and younger. At first Jim and Will were too afraid to face Mr. Dark and his freak show, but after the fear went away they tried as hard as they could to stop Mr. Darks plan. I enjoyed this book because I¿m the type of person that really likes mystery books that have a lot of fiction. I don¿t really know what the message was in the book but since I had to read a book for the summer then I had to get something that I liked reading. When I first read this book I thought to myself ¿wow, it¿s just another book¿ but when I got further into the reading I couldn¿t stop. It was a really good book and I would recommend this book to people that like reading fictional stories about ghosts. I liked the book a lot but it was kind of difficult for me to comprehend. It was difficult because the characters were very different then I am so I couldn¿t really find any connections. I connected my friends to some of the characters which really helped me out with the book. In conclusion this book was really fun to read. The mood throughout the story was whimsical. It made the book a lot more enjoyable to read and I didn¿t get bored of the book. It was a really good book for me since I had to read it I chose this because I thought I might enjoy it and I did.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Every fall I read this novel... a must read for all ages! Iia
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was introduced to this book as an assignment in my English class. Most of the students thought this book to be boring, I believe it to be exact opposite. Everything Bradbury writes about he explains it in much detail. Although, I wouldn't recomend this to anyone because I'm selfish and like to keep works of art to myself. But truely worth a read.
ryanseanoreilly More than 1 year ago
With purple prose Bradbury waxes nostalgic about childhood bogeymen, wonderfully creepy. This book is part of Bradbury’s loosely constructed Green Town trilogy (there’s also a collection of related short stories). A sort of classic tale in its telling, the story unfolds as a nostalgic coming of age yarn mixed with horror involving two young boys. The main struggle explored by the author is that of desire and temptation. Chiefly this evolves between the contrasting main characters. The protagonists, Will and Jim, are best friends, with the main difference being that Will is a bit more cautious and Jim is a bit more adventurous with a slightly edgier worldview than his friend. Will’s father (another main character), is old—to put it simply. Charles has come into fatherhood later in life and doesn’t know how to make amends with that, as the youth of his son seems only to be a constant reminder of how aged he is. This dynamic sets the stage for things to come. Enter the horror. Bradbury’s language is flowery, purple-colored prose from an older time. In looking at other reviews, it seems that this style is off-putting to some readers. Bradbury does not take a “window pane” approach to describing things (as author Brandon Sanderson might describe the style). His words fall from the abstract and are more akin to poetry. The author paints the scene with notes and chords and melody. The wording is thick and may take some chewing, depending on your mood or frame of reference. It’s is rife with allusion. That’s not to say that the story is not there—nor is it boring or stylized. There is real tension and suspense. But, Bradbury coats the story in vivid hues to invoke tone, mood and perhaps the nostalgia he must have been thinking of when he wrote this. Indeed, the story itself is inspired by the author’s own real life childhood experience from when a carnival came to his hometown. Still, no matter the author’s style, there is a clear framework of a story. At times, it may seem a bit long—but not much. It’s easy to see how other authors (like Stephen King for instance) were inspired by someone like Bradbury, when you have scenes involving sewer hideaways and sideshow freaks stalking through town on ill intent missions to find the two pesky young boys. Each time the protagonists escape the clutches of the Carnival, a new struggle ensues with solid reversals of fortune. And there is also the ever-present worry, that nobody will ever believe what is really go on here. Another thing to note of Bradbury’s style is his use of the language to construct scenes. His prose may be purpled—but it is not so verbose. He has a wonderful way of describing these evil things lurking about the town as they tangle with the protagonists, and he does this without resorting to overwrought, visceral descriptions of violence. I felt particularly creeped out by the Dust Witch, Mr. Dark and even the eviscerated Mr. Electro who drolled out stoic declarations like a half-dead toad. All the characters of this dark Carnival had a presence, though not described in complete physical detail–I still had a sense of them. I could feel the mood, the fear they put into the protagonists. The story is a tad romanticized, and perhaps the voice of the young boys feels out of age at times. Yet, it pretty much works. All the capers the two get into seem realistic enough and appropriate for their age. The evil of the Carnival provides a stark contrast to the idyllic air around the boys, which keeps the nostalgia from going overboard. Also wonderful is the way that Bradbury creates problems between the boys, who are the best of friends in every sense of the word (at times they seem like they are right out of a 1950’s sitcom). However, the absence of Jim’s father coupled with his curious and more daring side give him a darker edge and we are genuinely worried about him—just as Will is. This also rings true for Charles (Will’s father) who starts off as a nice fellow, but weak. We get to know Charles and understand his feeling of helplessness and struggle through this with him as he must put aside all his neurotic worrying about getting old, embrace life, and understand that his age is what it is (and that it is not even close to as bad as he has convinced himself it is). This story started out as a short story first (check out the slightly darker version called “Black Ferris”) and then morphed into a screenplay which Bradbury hoped his friend Gene Kelly would produce. That never happened so Bradbury took the time to turn the treatment into a full novel—which is what we have here. The book is a story of boyish adventure, yet Bradbury’s style makes the stakes much grander. The Carnival is not just some group of street criminals meant to rip off the good townspeople. There is something more sinister at work. Jim, Will, Charles and the citizens of Greentown come face to face with the physical manifestations of evil of the world and learn that even their small idyllic town is not safe. The struggle is eternal, for today’s struggle will be yesterday’s battle. The war lasts a lifetime. Yet, it’s not so heavy as all that, when the protagonists learn that they must trust to life’s good graces to keep evil at bay. They find the necessary strength within themselves to arm against the evil “Autumn People” of the world. Lastly, the elixir of life plot device, which Bradbury plays with in this story, is also refreshingly simple and yet a wonderfully unique take on this common trope. What dangerous consequences lie behind the glorious promises of a fountain of youth? Read and find out. A heartfelt tale through and through. Podcast: If you enjoy my review (or this topic) this book and the movie based on it were further discussed/debated in a lively discussion on my podcast: "No Deodorant In Outer Space". The podcast is available on iTunes or our website.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful, wonderful fantasy by one of the grandest wordsmith and storyteller of recent time. Great to read aloud!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kiss your hand 3 times repost this on 3difrentbooks then look under your pillow
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A movie was out in 1984 starring Jason Robards as Jim's dad. I never thought about reading the book until I got out of high school and I have read the book twicesince I have seen the movie. The movie is pretty good and stays close to the plot of the story. Both are worth a watch and a read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best horror books ever. The writing style can be aggrevating, but the story is original and brilliant. Any horror story with children as the main protaganists is almost always a hit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Are small mortality plays concerning good and evil what an imagination subtle will not scare the young reader but o henry endings often disturb the older reader some are essays more than story description without a definite end a character sketch curious not much of a poet it was all in his prose page counter
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i have never seen the movie, nor do i care too. the book is a master piece in and of its self. a story of 2 boys, one timid and fearful and the other strong willed and dangerously curious.both find themselves in a crazy mystery the must solve. A Bradbury classic and a must read for any Bradbury Fan!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read tjos book for my advanxed english class, tje first book of tje yr. I hated it. It was slow and boring. The plot was nvrending and the charscters were bland. Most ppl on my class, or everyone in ,y class, would agree woth me, that this was the wordt book we read all year. Although ppl say it was hainting and creepy, i didnt gst that effect at all, i thought it was quite bland and tasteless.