Study Guide

Something Wicked This Way Comes

By Ray Bradbury

Something Wicked This Way Comes Introduction

Something Wicked This Way Comes is a modern horror story focused on two thirteen-year-old boys who uncover menacing secrets at the carnival that has arrived in town. It was published in 1962 by American writer Ray Bradbury. Although most famous for his science fiction work (think Fahrenheit 451 or The Martian Chronicles), Ray Bradbury made a significant dent in the horror genre with Something Wicked, influencing later masters of the genre like Stephen King. He also made a significant cultural impact; the number of TV shows and songs that reference his novel is surprisingly large (we've got episodes of South Park, The Simpsons, and Doctor Who just to name a few). This popularity was no doubt escalated by Disney's 1983 movie adaptation of the novel.

Bradbury has a knack for writing about adolescents, and Something Wicked is as memorable as a coming-of-age story as it is as a horror novel. In this way, it stands in parallel to Bradbury's 1957 novel, Dandelion Wine. Both novels take place in the fictional Green Town, Illinois. Both feature two young boys (though not the same characters) on the cusp of adolescence. Both are written in a sort of magical realism, influenced by a young, imaginative way of looking at the world. The difference is that Dandelion Wine takes place in the summer and is a light, happy novel, while Something Wicked This Way Comes takes place in the autumn and is dark and eerie. It's interesting to read these novels as a pair for precisely this reason.

What is Something Wicked This Way Comes About and Why Should I Care?

Reasons to Enjoy, Love, or Otherwise Care About Something Wicked This Way Comes:

  1. Who doesn't love a scary story? If you like Edgar Allan Poe, Tim Burton films, and anything from slasher flicks to the best of psychological suspense, you'll enjoy the spine-chilling fun to be had courtesy of Ray Bradbury.
  2. The title comes from Shakespeare. Need we (a hopeless bunch of Bard-lovers) say more?
  3. [Applicable if you're in the twelve to fourteen-year-old boy range]: Bradbury totally gets you. Main characters Will and Jim embody all the twelve-year-old boy stuff. Their way of looking at the world shapes the novel, from its words to its very story. Bradbury's brand of scary comes from the imagination of a twelve-year-old boy.
  4. [Applicable if you are NOT in the twelve to fourteen-year-old boy range]: Bradbury totally gets what it's like to be a twelve to fourteen-year-old boy. (Almost as if he was one at some point!) Something Wicked This Way Comes isn't just a supernatural tale of spooky fun, but a tribute to that very special time in a guy's life. If you remember what it was like to be that age, the novel takes on the tone of nostalgia. If you never were a twelve-year-old boy (yes, ladies, this book is for you too), then consider this a glimpse into relatively unknown territory. A vivid, fun, spooky glance.

Something Wicked This Way Comes Resources

Movie or TV Productions

Something Wicked This Way Comes, 1983
Saturday night fun for you and your buddies

"Something Wall-Mart This Way Comes," 2004
South Park spoofs Bradbury's novel. Here's the episode summary: "The streets of South Park are like a ghost-town when a giant Wall-Mart lures all the townspeople to the new store with its incredible bargains. Cartman becomes a boy possessed by the power of Wall-Mart and its low, low prices. In order to save their town, Stan and Kyle have to find a way to destroy the ever-expanding superstore while keeping Cartman from stabbing them in the back."


Ray Bradbury Talks About Writing
What to do when everyone rejects you.

"Something Wall-Mart This Way Comes," 2004
South Park spoofs Bradbury's novel. Watch the full episode here!


Chopin's Funeral March
As heard by Will.

Calliope Music
Hallmark of the eerie carnival.


Ray Bradbury – the Official Site
Bio, message board, and more.


Mr. Dark
From the 1983 movie.

Ray Bradbury
Hard to believe all that creepy stuff came from this friendly-looking guy.


"In His Words"
Info about Ray Bradbury, straight from the horse's mouth.

"The pulp god lives." on Ray Bradbury

Bradbury Turns 87
And takes a look back.