Age is just a number (A review of ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ by Ray Bradbury)

Books, Fiction, Literature
The silhouette of Mr Dark can be seen in the above cover art.

I’ve been a huge Ray Bradbury fan ever since I read ‘Fahrenheit 451’ a couple of years ago. The prevalent theme of censorship in the book captivated me and it pushed me to dabble into more of Bradbury’s works – such as ‘Dandelion Wine’ and ‘The Illustrated Man’.

Today, I got the chance to read ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ – the second book in Bradbury’s Green Town trilogy (the first being ‘Dandelion Wine’). The book, however, merely serves as a spiritual successor to ‘Dandelion Wine’, as no characters from the first book make an appearance in this one.

Like ‘Dandelion Wine’ however, this book is once again set in the fictional ‘Green Town’ in Illinois, which is visited by a traveling carnival led by a sinister looking man named Mr Dark in mid-October. However, with the arrival of Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show, the town finds itself drowned in a mood of fear and self-doubt. Most notably, two young boys by the name of Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade decide to visit the carnival at night to see what’s up. Also, Charles Halloway, father to Will, is notably affected by the arrival of the carnival, as his insecurities over his old age begin to seep through and take over him.

This is a fascinating book in which Bradbury expertly crafts an unsettling experience for the readers – as the book slowly dives deeper into darker territories ad it is revealed that Mr Dark and Mr Cooger possess powers which allow them to reverse the age of anyone who desires it – at the price of their freedom.

What really moved me in this book, however, was the constant state of turmoil which Charles Halloway finds himself in. Torn between wanting to be younger to get a second chance at life (the age difference between him and his wife always made him uncomfortable) and coming to terms with the fact that age is just a number, Charles’ journey throughout the story keeps readers engaged and constantly questioning whether Mr Halloway would give in and approach Mr Dark to regain his youth.

All this leads to a fantastic conclusion that sees Mr Halloway, Will and Jim take center stage.

The book is a thorough exploration into one of man’s deepest insecurities – old age and death – but establishes a powerful message in the end that it doesn’t matter when death takes you.

What really matters is how you spend every moment of your life leading up to your last days among-st the living. Bradbury brushes aside the terror posed by death as something that need not be feared – in a chilling conclusion that each and every one of you must experience by picking up this book and giving it a read.

One of the best books I’ve read in a while – 5/5! Cheers!