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on 14 June 2010
Another fantastic effort from Ray Bradbury, full of tension, excitement and wonderful language. The story itself is both terrifying and chilling. The villains are every childs worst nightmare. The story really sucks you in and keeps you turning the pages.

It reminded me in some ways of the Stephen King novel 'IT' but I think thats because its a story of children fighting a molevelant evil.
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on 23 August 2014
Wow! That was some carnival ride! Awesome book. Not a kiddies book by any measure. Disney May have done a film in 83, but the book is worthy of all collections.
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on 28 October 2013
Fantastically written book. Very different to any style I've read before and I love it and would recommend to anyone thats after a good old fashioned read.
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on 29 December 2012
Not quite sure what I was expecting here, having only read ( I think) 'The Illustrated Man' in my far-off youth; what I wanted was a creepy, thought-provoking novel about impending evil, with, given Bradbury's screenwriting experience, terse prose and plausible dialogue. The book has a reputation as a classic, but if there's one thing you should never pay attention to when it comes to books (or films, or restaurants, or the opposite sex, or anything really), it's reputation.
What we have is something that reads like an almost plotless literary experiment. One late October day, a strange carnival, Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show comes to Green Town, Illinois. Two thirteen year-old boys, excitable, annoying Will Halloway, and his more troubled friend Jim Nightshade, become attracted/repelled by the carnie's bizarre acts and rides (most notably a merry-go-round that can alter a rider's age), and are then dragged into a life and death struggle with the carnival's owner, Mr Dark, The Illustrated Man.
The boys do a lot of running hither and thither, a lot of climbing in and out of their bedroom windows and a lot of shouting of each other's names. There are many unwelcome homilies to the wonder of books (Will's father Charles works in the local, amazingly well-stocked library) and long pontificating on the nature of evil. Italics and exclamation marks litter the prose in a way that almost every modern writer would disdain. The prose itself is verbose, baroque and bloated with adjectives and hybrid phrases...as in this description of Mr Dark: 'Mr Dark came carrying his panoply of friends, his jewel-case assortment of calligraphical reptiles which lay sunning themselves at midnight on his flesh. With him strode the stich-linked Tyrannosaurus Rex, which lent to his haunches a machined and ancient wellspring mineral-oil glide. As the thunder lizard strode, all glass-bead pomp, so strode Mr Dark armored with vile lightning scribbles of carnivores and sheep-blasted by that thunder and arun before storms of juggernaut flesh...' (there are another hundred words of this). Eyes are 'fright-coloured', teeth 'panic-coloured', hands are 'snug-clapped' to mouths, and Bradbury seems to be on a mission to use the words 'shadow' and 'moon' as often as possible.
It would be a dull world, obvs, where everyone wrote like Hemingway, but to me this kind of faux-poetry is stodgy, and worse, obscures meaning, and even worse than that, kills tension and scariness. Though there are truly unsettling concepts in the book, the runaway-train exuberance of the prose and the ambling, goes-nowhere story means they are seriously under-explored.
Charles Halloway's own analysis of the kind of books he imagined himself writing sums up Bradbury's novel: "Now it all seemed fireworks, done for color, sound, the high architecture of words, to dazzle the boys, powder his ego, but with no mark left on retina or mind after the color and sound faded; a mere exercise in self-declamation'.
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on 7 November 2015
Very good read for Halloween - but you can see from the way it's written it was meant for a screenplay, not the book. But it's worth reading
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on 9 September 2014
Excellent book please read in October for best results. This is my second favorite book of all time and I've read thousands of the buggers.
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on 23 January 2015
Somehow, I've reached my mid-forties without reading this and, as it was around Halloween, I decided to give it a try. And I'm so pleased I did. Deceptively simple, this tells the story of Jim Nightshade and William Halloway, both thirteen and one day apart, who live next door to one another. Jim's Dad is absent, Will's is a janitor at the library - a `much older' man in his early fifties - and they are the best of friends, Jim a bit reckless, Will less so, both of them keen on adventures. They live in Green Town, Illinois and one day see - whilst out after they should be in bed - the carnival - called Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show - arrive. They're thrilled to see it but both notice that it brings changes to the town, especially after what happens to Miss Foley in the Hall Of Mirrors. Then Mr Dark, who runs the carnival, becomes aware of them.
This is a fantastic novel, perfectly capturing the joy and darkness of boyhood (and the power of adventures and friendship), painting a wonderful portrait of the father/son bond (the Halloways are fairly distant, Charles thinking he's too old for his son, even though he shares a lot of the same ideas and ideals) and describing late October so well you can almost smell the woodsmoke. It also speaks of a sense of mortality, as Charles thinks of old age slowing him down and separating him from his beloved son (which, as a forty-something reader and father, touched a nerve or two). From the boundless and upbeat energy of the opening, through the thrilling middle towards the climax that is powerful because it's so simple, this is funny and superbly realised, whilst also being shot through with dark threads of melancholy. At one point, Jim says:

"Mom?" A long silence. "Can you remember Dad's face? Do I look like him?"
"The day you go away is the day he leaves forever."

Later, when they see what they see at the carnival (I won't spoil it for you), Bradbury does an excellent job of showing the internal conflict, that the boys know they need to act but that they also need to get away - "Oh, Will, I wish we could go home, I wish we could eat. But it's too late, we saw! We got to see more! Don't we?"
The book has some superb set-pieces - Mr Cooger on the carousel, the witch and the balloon, the little girl under the tree (more frightening than you would think), Mr Electro's first appearance, Charles Halloway and Mr Dark talking (amongst many other unmentioned things) at the tobacconists, Charles' "something and nothing" speech, the library confrontation and the hall of mirrors - and it is held together with some of the most beautiful uses of language I think I've ever read, words seeming to tumble into themselves as they paint pictures of dark nights, moonlight and Autumn.
The characterisation is very good (though the symbolism with the boys - light and dark - is a little obvious and heavy) and filled with great dialogue (at the carnival, on that first day, Jim says "You wouldn't leave me alone. You're always going to be around, aren't you, Will? To protect me?") and the moment that Will realises his Dad (who he thought was small and old) is tall brought a lump to my throat. Mr Dark is the perfect villain, menacing and seemingly unstoppable, whilst also appearing jolly and well meaning and the assorted freaks of the carnival are a menagerie of ghouls (made worse when you realise who and what they are).
Absorbing, funny, horrifying and poignant, this is an essential read for any horror fan and I highly recommend it.
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on 14 March 2010
really enjoyed this...simple but effective story. It captures that great feeling of being young and matches it well with a dark story. Don't know why but to me it feels timely, like the theme is very relevant today.

I read it in one sitting - that is how engrossed i got :-)
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on 15 March 2014
Top read from a top writer and this particular copy comes with a cool cover so treat yourself to some nights in having a good read.
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on 8 January 2015
And now something wicked leads me on to more bradbury and inspiration!
So many stories and so little time, or so it seems...
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