By Ray Bradbury
The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. The shrill siren song of the 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.
SWTWC is one of my favourite books. I've read it three times now. It's about two boys - Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway - who fight a supernatural carnival that has come to their town. They will have to save their town and, also, their own souls.
This book is part of the Green Town series, together with Dandelion Wine and Farewell Summer, But it has nothing in common with either of these books, except that they all take place in Ray Bradbury's fictionalized hometown.
Why do I like this book so much? Well, for one, it has so many layers to it. It's a story about good vs. evil. It's about childhood. It's about growing up and growing old. It's about friendship and family. It's about finding your place in the world. And it has a great father and son story and I'm a sucker for those.
This book is scary. There's very little violence, and Bradbury proves once again that you don't need gore to scare your audience. It's the dark mood, the implication of what the carnival might do to you that's scary. The evil is hiding underneath all the fun rides and games. Bradbury's style, the language he uses, it's like poetry. Very dark poetry.
All the characters in SWTWC are fleshed out, they're real people and you care about them. Bradbury has no trouble writing believeble characters with real depth. But the star here is without a doubt Mr. Dark, the villain. Now this is how you write your villain. He's truly evil and very dangerous, but he's a gentleman. He's both intelligent and very charming.
Now, there is one thing I have a problem with, and that is the ending, the very last chapter. It's very rushed and even feels kind of forced.
But even though I didn't like the ending, I still think this is a fantastic book. I recommend it to everyone. And it's a perfect addition to your Halloween to-read list. If you have one of those.