Jean, 39, lover of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, reader of comic books, conqueror of genre fiction.
Conceived originally as a joint project with illustrations by Charles Addams, abandoned for some time after his death and resurrected by Bradbury late in his career, this book is a bit of a strange one for me. I think I like it better than it is actually a good book, if that makes sense (hence the high rating). There are sketches here for something great, an annual classic, as Bradbury wanted it to become.
This is a "fix-up," and the strength is in the individual short stories woven into the overall narrative, some of which have been published before, and all of which could stand on their own. Which makes the connecting narrative a bit clunky at times. Cecy's story feels the most complete (and The April Witch is my favorite of the stories), with a resolution towards the end of the novel that made my heart melt. The original cover illustration is an Addams painting made to accompany the short story that gave Bradbury the idea for the book, and I can't help but think how much more complete the book would be if it were a picture book of sorts.
With his usual eloquence and turn of poetic prose, Bradbury does present something somewhere between simplicity and richness, innocence and deviance; absolutely suited to the holiday, he evokes both an earlier, wilder pagan age, as well as the modernity of plastic pumpkin pails and the nostalgic plastic smell of printed plastic costume smocks. He balances between the two, making me remember both fond nights trick or treating when the ghosts and goblins were only playing dress-up, and later in the evening, when, in my Halloween dreams, the real ones came out to cavort.
It's true, I do read it every year. And I enjoy it, and am nostalgic for it, when I found it on the shelf and bought my lovely hardcover edition. But if you're going to read Bradbury for Halloween, I'd suggest finding a copy of The Halloween Tree or The October Country instead.