Ahh, Bradbury. You were a master wordsmith. We miss you.
Ray Bradbury is chronically underappreciated, in my view, although I totally understand why this is so. The fact is, you have to have a deep and abiding love for the English language to really get Bradbury, and even then he, like many other very prolific authors, had his high points and his low points. Something Wicked, while not his best story, is a very good one, and must certainly be the best of his full-length novels. Where Bradbury really shines is with the short story, which he produced tons of, and this novel is actually a "fix-up" of a short story that he wrote entitled The Black Ferris. I loved The Black Ferris, and actually think that in overall terms it was better than Something Wicked. Where this novel rises above the short story that spawned it, though, is the prose.
Bradbury's prose in this novel is dreamlike; one might reasonably call it lyrical. He doesn't say anything the easy way. Instead, he takes you on a journey with each paragraph, a journey where he teaches you to see everything as something else in order to better understand the true nature which underlies it. Clouds are not clouds, they are ripped and tattered sheets, blowing in the wind. The sky is actually the sea, stars are eyes, a balloon is the moon, and the moon...well, you get the picture. The exquisite use of simile and metaphor in this book really turned it from a horror-fantasy into a masterpiece of fiction, a snapshot of mid-twentieth century smalltown America. This is a book worth reading for anyone who can enjoy the skilled use of language in a novel as much or more than the novel's plot.