Eight boys go trick-or-treating to a haunted house, only to find a spooky figure, who goes by the impressive name of Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud, ready to whisk them all away on an historical tour through the many variations of All Hallow’s Eve. While discovering the true meaning of Halloween, the boys also struggle to find and save their lost friend, a real boys’ boy named Pipkin.
There are only two problems with this short book: 1.) Bradbury can often be a bit of an All Boys School kind of writer, and this work ratchets that to the extreme; 2.) it’s sometimes a little list-like in its cataloging of all the versions of Halloween that have existed over time (“the Druids did this and the Romans did that and the Christians did something else and now let’s go see about the Mexicans!”).
But to hell with it, because I LOVE this book! Bradbury’s gift for language is at its strongest here. Everything is gorgeously described–from the notes played by the wooden planks of the haunted house’s porch, to a triumphant affirmation of life itself as a boy runs a gauntlet of a hundred mummies, Bradbury’s prose casts a powerful spell.
A powerful work and a poetic meditation on how we deal with the fear of death, this book is the best indictment of the current state of the holiday ever written.