Bradbury’s writing is way better, almost a stream of consciousness through the eyes of two boys thirteen years old in the moment that Autumn arrives on the same night as the calliope.
The calliope which plays Chopin’s Funeral March backwards in some unrecognizable theme as the calliope itself rotates the opposite way and Mr. Cooger who’s riding it becomes, somehow, a ten year old boy himself. Miss Foley calls him her nephew, but we recognize his eyes as belonging to another.
The witch who leaves a silver streak tacky as an evil-smelling glue over one of the boys’ houses as she glides by in her helium balloon with its elephantine shadow. The boy gets his bow and arrow and rents a smile in the balloon’s silk until the air escapes, and we see it next in a forty foot long coffin traversing the street as in a parade.
Cooger, Mr. Dark (the Illustrated Man), the Witch, the Dwarf, the Lightning-Rod Salesman all freaks in a show who take nothing for something luring their victims who fear death with the promise of youth. The promise of youth which turns to horror when one becomes something he’s not anymore.
“Good to evil seems evil,” says the boy’s father, and this is how evil turns tail and flees, the freaks running away leaving a calliope which could take one boy’s best friend from him if the father would let it. But, the smiles he carved in a wax bullet defeat the Witch…his laughter in the Mirror Maze disintegrates the mirror…his dancing a jig while singing a song and playing the harmonica resurrect a young boy because evil has only the power we give it.
The most wonderful kind of book Something Evil This Way Comes tells a story with images like a film and ends with a lesson in Truth.
It’s the best piece of macabre fiction I’ve ever read.