In Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, a mysterious carnival comes to town.
A dark fable about growing up and learning to distinguish right from wrong, Bradbury’s beautifully-written and tragically under-appreciated novel packs an incredible amount of action and insight and character into its slim 290 pages. It’s absolutely timeless and I enjoy it just as much now at 33 as I did when I first read it at 13.
Erin Morgenstern’s hugely popular debut has a similar set-up: late one night, a mysterious circus comes to town.
But where Bradbury opts for menace, Morgenstern opts for wonder. His is a tale of good versus evil; hers a love story.
Nothing wrong with a love story per se. Sadly, this is a very thin story stretched over 490 interminable pages – it feels a little like a novella that’s trying to convince us it’s an epic.
The writing is certainly not bad – the prose is simple but elegant, even musical – but it just doesn’t add up to much. The characters have no complexity, no depth; and the threadbare, meandering plot simply cannot justify or support a novel of this length.
Next: some modern devilry.