Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.
Avon Books: NY, 1999.
Originally by Simon & Schuster, 1962.

A creepy carnival that can transcend time is the theme of this Ray Bradbury classic. All three protagonists (friends Jim Nightshade, Will Halloway, and Will's father) sense the coming and arrival of this carnival that tempts people to fulfill their dreams regarding age. The young wish to be older, the aging want to lose years - not knowing that it is only the body that changes, leaving each person to leave behind loved ones. The transformation also comes with a price. Each must work for the carnival in some mutated form to pay for the service rendered. The manager of the carnival (Mr. Dark) keeps tabs of all the people with tattoos he draws on himself. The carnival is timeless, having traveled through centuries.

Will's father harbors a desire to capture his youth, but fights the temptation to save his son who may become trapped in the process of keeping Jim from the temptation. Will's father researches at the library to find a method of defeating the carnival. In the process, Will and his father have their first adult conversation. Will starts to see his father as a person instead of an infallible parent.

On a side note, the library in the story was patterned after the Carnegie library in Waukegan, Illinois in which Bradbury spent much of his youth. The story itself was inspired by a memory of a magician who exhorted him to "Live forever!" as a child. The book of short stories, Dandelion Wine, is related.

Bradbury is a master storyteller. Though the tale gets to be almost too creepy for me, it is spellbinding. It is a good place to start for someone wanting to try out classic fantasy/horror. The language is dripping with style and metaphor. This is only the third Bradbury book I've read. Others are The Illustrated Man, a short story collection (which I read and enjoyed a couple years ago) and The Martian Chronicles (which I wasn't thrilled about in high school). I can't wait to read more. I have checked out 2 others from the library before without reading them.
related-age and growth, temptation, good vs evil, carnivals, classic literature, fears, power of the mind, wishes
RL=YA-adult, adult book

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