The novel opens in October in Green Town and begins with of discussion of different months of the year, and their significance for young boys. September, says the narrator, is a bad month for boys, since that's when school begins. In October, on the other hand, excitement for Halloween starts building right around the twentieth of the month.
We learn that one year Halloween came early – on October 24th, three hours after midnight. At exactly that time, James Nightshade was thirteen years, eleven months, and twenty-three days old. His next door neighbor, William Halloway, was thirteen years, eleven months, and twenty-four days old. Both boys lived on Oak Street.
The two boys grew up overnight that week, the narrator claims.