Something Wicked This Way Comes is a 1962 novel by Ray Bradbury. It is about two 13-year-old boys, Jim Nightshade and William Halloway, who have a harrowing experience with a nightmarish traveling carnival that comes to their Midwestern town one October. The carnival's leader is the mysterious "Mr. Dark" who bears a tattoo for each person who, lured by the offer to live out his secret fantasies, has become bound in service to the carnival. Mr. Dark's malevolent presence is countered by that of Will's father, Charles Halloway, who harbors his own secret desire to regain his youth.
The novel combines elements of fantasy and horror, analyzing the conflicting natures of good and evil, and on how they come into play between the characters and the carnival. Unlike many of Bradbury's other works, including the tangentially related Dandelion Wine, which are collections of loosely related short stories, Something Wicked This Way Comes is a full-length novel.
Something Wicked This Way Comes can be interpreted as an allegory of the struggle between good and evil, with the human characters Will, Jim, and Charles on the side of morality, and Mr. Dark and his carnival on the side of sin and temptation. As in many other fictional works revolving around the same concept, good prevails in the end, not with supernatural or physical powers, but with purity of heart. Jim represents good that is always on the verge of giving into temptation, while Will is the part of us that relentlessly resists giving in.
As in Dandelion Wine, Bradbury infuses the novel with nostalgia for his childhood. However, Dandelion Wine better represents the idyllic days, whereas Something Wicked explores the darker nights, combining folk-tale characters with supernatural elements to relate otherwise fantastical and gothic-themed motifs to American daily life.