Something Wicked This Way Comes

Ray Bradbury

Illustrated by Tim McDonagh

Introduced by Frank Skinner

Comedian, writer and broadcaster Frank Skinner introduces the new Folio edition of Ray Bradbury’s dark fantasy masterpiece Something Wicked This Way Comes, with thrilling illustrations by artist Tim McDonagh.

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Described by Bradbury himself as the book he loved ‘best of all the things I have written’, Something Wicked This Way Comes is a timeless classic of fantasy horror. For this lavishly illustrated collector’s edition, Tim McDonagh has provided seven colour illustrations dripping with carnivalesque menace. The eerie inhabitants of Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show are lit with the gaudy yellow and red lights of the funfair, while Mr Dark leers from the midst of his attractions, the faces of his victims tattooed across his palms. Like Bradbury’s prose, the images in this special Folio edition invite the reader to venture a little deeper into that dark tent, promising wonders and horrors and everything in between. Comedian and actor Frank Skinner lists the book as amongst his favourites, and in his incisive and affectionate introduction written for this edition he examines the many delicious flavours of fear in a novel layered with meaning and portents.

‘The finished book is a thing of beauty. I find myself cradling it and running my fingers across its sweet pages. The illustrations combine the garish colours of the carnival with the disturbing images of nightmare and, thus, exactly mirror the unsettling mood of the book.’
  • Frank Skinner

Production Details

Bound in blocked cloth

Typeset in Columbus

272 pages

Frontispiece and 6 colour illustrations, including a double-page spread

Blocked slipcase

9½˝ x 6¼˝

All the fun of the fair

‘A timeless rite-of-passage book’

  1. Washington Post

Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to town, and for Jim and Will, two boys full of the restlessness of autumn, the carnival is a treasure chest of enticements. But the cotton candy and the sweet calliope music hide a more sinister truth: Mr Dark, with his changing tattoos and sideshow patter, holds the key to escaping the bonds of childhood for ever – a temptation that may be impossible to resist. The freakshow is coming for Jim and Will, and the price of admission will be their souls.

An early fascination with the strange and uncanny

Here comes the carnival, Death like a rattle in one hand, Life like candy in the other.

As a child, Bradbury fostered an enduring love for the circuses, freaks and monsters of early cinema, and specifically credited the grotesques played by Lon Chaney with inspiring his love of fantasy and horror. When he was 12 years old his mother took him to a carnival featuring Mr Electrico, the real-life inspiration behind the ancient and ghoulish figure that haunts Something Wicked This Way Comes. This Mr Electrico was a more benevolent soul, introducing young Bradbury to all the sideshow performers, including the Illustrated Man and the Human Skeleton. He also confided to Bradbury that he believed the boy to be the reincarnated soul of his best friend, who had died in his arms during the battle of the Ardennes Forest in 1918. Entranced by this strange revelation, Bradbury would begin his lifelong love affair with the written word within weeks of the encounter.

‘By the pricking of my thumbs’

‘Bradbury’s best work’

  1. Stephen King

A darkly poetic tale of smoke and mirrors, temptation and lost innocence, Something Wicked This Way Comes continues to influence the modern masters of horror. Echoes of the sinister carousel move through the heart of Neil Gaiman’s award-winning American Gods, while Stephen King, who wrote extensively about the book in his non-fiction work Danse Macabre, advises that it is ‘one of those books about childhood that adults should take down once in a while... not just to give to their own children, but in order to touch base again themselves with childhood’s brighter perspectives and darker dreams.’

About Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury was born in Illinois in 1920, and spent most of his life in Los Angeles. He did not go to university and was a full-time writer from the age of 23; his short story ‘Homecoming’ was picked from the slush pile at Mademoiselle magazine by Truman Capote. Bradbury’s first book, a collection of short stories entitled Dark Carnival, was published in 1947. The Martian Chronicles (1950) was followed by The Illustrated Man (1951) and his seminal work of dystopian science fiction, Fahrenheit 451, in 1953. He died in 2012.

About Frank Skinner

Frank Skinner is a British comedian, writer and broadcaster. He graduated from the University of Warwick and worked as an English Literature lecturer prior to embarking on a career in stand-up comedy and winning the prestigious Perrier Award for live comedy in 1991. His television work includes Fantasy Football League (BBC and ITV), The Frank Skinner Show (ITV) and Room 101 (BBC) as well as authoring documentaries on passions as diverse as George Formby and Muhammad Ali. Frank’s long-running Absolute Radio show has won three gold ARIA awards, and in 2015 he was inducted into the Radio Academy Hall of Fame. A lifelong fan of science fiction, he recently fulfilled a childhood ambition by appearing in Series 8 of Doctor Who.

About Tim McDonagh

Tim McDonagh is an illustrator living and working in Brighton, England. He uses a mix of traditional media including brushes, ink and pens mixed with a digital finish to create his artworks. They are often bold and intricate at the same time, favouring a limited use of colour to bring the line work to life. He has worked for a number of clients over the years including Nike, Lucasfilm, Puma and the New York Times.


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