Technically speaking, his Fahrenheit 451 may be a better novel, but for me this later work represents Bradbury's imaginative and narrative powers at their peak. Two boys trembling on the edge of adolescence in a small Illinois town in the earlier part of the twentieth century are drawn into the mystery of the dark carnival that arrives in the depths of a summer night. Written in a vividly poetic - and occasional over the top - style, this rich fantasy explores the wild and magical dream that is childhood in Bradbury's fiction and its necessary rupturing by adult awareness, the inevitable loss of innocence that accompanies this and the suggestion that this process is one of corruption. Cooger and Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show offers unwary customers their hearts' desires - only to horribly twist and distort them, in a way that paradoxically could never be in the 'real' world but only within the imaginative realm that children inhabit. Bradbury's narration is colourful and nostalgic, sentimental and richly descriptive as he unleashes his astonishing tale of wide-eyed youngsters, world-weary adults, freaks, nightmares, and gothic revelation. An impossible book to pin down, perhaps due to its own dreamlike structure and narrative, it surely contains the wonders of youth and horrors of maturity presented in Bradbury's fantastical symbolism, and as such represents his most vividly realised work.