Title: The Halloween Tree
Author: Ray Bradbury
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Synopsis: In The Halloween Tree, master of fantasy Ray Bradbury takes readers on a riveting trip though space and time to discover the true origins of Halloween.
So. First Bradbury.
I’m not sure if this was the first book I should have started with, I own The Illustrated Man and perhaps that was the route to go but I decided to pick this one up because it was short so here are my thoughts.
The Halloween Tree is a fantastical adventure for children/tweens that shows the history of Halloween. We have a group of friends – all boys, there’s literally no female characters in this story – and it’s the night of Halloween. When they all leave their houses, dressed in different traditional Halloween creatures one of their friends, the most popular of them is not ready, he looks rather sick. Yet he tells them to go to the house on the hill which they all do and he will meet them there. There they find the Halloween tree, a massive tree with thousands of jack-o-lanterns lit. From the earth rises Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud and Moundshroud takes them on an adventure through time. We go back 4,000 years to the great Pyramids of Egypt and start digging up how all of the Halloween customs got started.
Despite what sounds like a spectacular adventure the best part of this entire book is the prose. Bradbury’s lyrical prose is downright poetic. So this entire book reads like a long poem. For example, this very well composed line:
“Miraculously, smoke curled out of his own mouth, his nose, his ears, his eyes, as if his soul had been extinguished within his lungs at the very moment the sweet pumpkin gave up its incensed ghost.”
It is very beautifully written but I felt the actual story was a bit dated, it was like watching a sort of 1960s Disney movie were boys have adventures in a world where there are no girls. I can see how it can be a bit alienating. That being said, I was schooled as to the background of Halloween which I appreciated but there is little if any character connection. Henceforth, this is a great book for a child, I highly recommend it for younger audiences as they will enjoy the innate childlike silliness of the book. Also, this particular illustrated edition was beautiful. I think I will be gifting this to a little boy.