Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

I decided to close the RIP II challenge with The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury after having it recommended to me by so many people. Like Debi, I can definitely see this one becoming a Halloween tradition. This is my third Bradbury for the RIP challenge and if there was more than just 6 hours left to the challenge I'd read more! There's a certain honesty to Bradbury's writing. The Halloween Tree exudes memories of Halloween as a child. I fell back into my childhood when reading this one and that chill in the air on Halloween night came alive. He did the same thing with Something Wicked This Way Comes. He truly has a gift for capturing the spirit of the fantastic.

The Halloween Tree is the tale of 9 boys and their adventure through the history of Halloween throughout the world. A group of friends gather on Halloween night, dressed in their costumes, to meet their friend Pipkin for trick-or-treating. Pipkin isn't looking right but sends his friends on their way and tells them to meet him at a house at the end of town...he'll be there soon dressed in his costume. They arrive at a house that's shroud in mystery and after knocking on the door things get strange. They discover a tree...a Halloween Tree that is lit up with hundreds of jackolanterns. A man rises from the leaves surrounding the tree...he's the owner of the house, named Mr. Moundshroud.

Pipkin finally comes running to catch up with his friends when he's swept up by a dark cloud and disappears. Mr. Moundshroud leads the remaining 8 friends on a chase through Halloween traditions celebrated the world over. There journey starts in Ancient Egypt where they witness the traditions associated with Osiris and continues all the way through Mexico's Day of the Dead. In between they visit the gargoyles of Notre Dame and the Druid god, Samhain to name a couple. They travel through all these places to find their friend, Pip, while learning about the traditions associated with their costumes along the way.

There's also a wonderful theme of friendship throughout this book and that's a theme that is seen in everything I've read of Bradbury's. He writes such heartwarming stories in the midst of such creepy stories. The ending to this book is quite endearing and well worth the read just for that.

A favorite line: "When you reach the stars, boy, yes, and live there forever, all the fears will go, and Death himself will die." I thought that was just beautiful. A bit morbid that it should be my favorite line, but the words are just perfect.

Last but not least, the cover of this book is fantastic! May be my favorite cover of the year. If you enbiggen (stole that word from bookfool ;) the picture, the skull is actually made up of the halloween tree and the 8 boys in the book in their costumes! Genius!

I also finished Wizards, which I'm not going to do a full review on because I'm lazy :p I wasn't overly impressed with it. I loved Neil Gaiman's story, The Witch's Headstone and Orson Scott Card's story, Stonefather, was amazing, but aside from that there were 2 or 3 others that I really enjoyed but nothing else really stood out. My problem with reading anthologies is that I'm thrown off by all of the different styles of writing. If I'm reading one author's anthology, that's fine because I can grow accustomed to their style. But with these anthologies, the style changes from story to story and I lose interest and the stories aren't long enough for me to really gain interest. Unless they're really good, which a few were. With Gaiman and Card, I was familiar with their styles, so those I enjoyed.

Anyway, The Halloween Tree...Read it!


Ladytink_534 said...

I loved The Halloween Tree! Have you seen the animated movie yet? They drop some characters and change J.J. into Jenny but it's still very good.

DesLily said...

I have to agree with you on Wizards! I liked the two you liked, but I also loved.. Winter's Wife.. thought that one was a little weird but I liked it.

You soooooooooo need to read a few tombs so that I can begin to catch up to you with books! lol lol

you also have just a few chapters to read tonight...tomorrow begins your nano whatever, writing doesn't it???? (gunna name a character deslily? huh? huh? huh?!! lol lol)

Chris said...

ladytink, I was thinking of you while I was reading this one actually because I remember you telling me about the movie! I need to go find it, I'm sure I'd love it., that's funny.

Deslily, I actually remember Winter's Wife somewhat, so it must have been decent :p That's the thing with that book, none of the stories stuck with me! Oh well.

I'm slowly reading Rebecca right now which is 400 pages, but very small print and then I have The Age of Innocence to read which I tried to read once and couldn't. But I'm determined this time! It'll take me awhile to get through it though, so you'll have plenty of time to catch up ;)

Oh shit! Damn nano! Yeah that's tomorrow...and you know what, that's a great idea! I might just put a deslily in ;) You want to live in a fairy world or a real world? lol...I need characters!

Nymeth said...

I love the cover of The Halloween Tree too. It's brilliant! It is amazing how his stories can be so creepy and so heartwarming at the same time. Great review!

That's too bad you didn't like Wizards too much. It's one of my favourite fantasy anthologies ever, but different strokes for different folks :P I can definitely see how anthologies are harder to get into than novels for the reasons you pointed out.

Debi said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I LOVED your review! I really loved your point about there being a heartwarming story entwined with the creepy one in his books. Okay, so I've only read two of his books so far, but that is most definitely true! I'm so anxious to read more of his books...just received a couple from paperback swap, but with all the books I have to read for challenges this month, I don't know if I'll get to any. (I'm actually going to use Dandelion Wine for the "plant" book in Annie's challenge.)

So are you excited to start writing today? Annie was just chomping at the bit yesterday. I think I'll let her have a long time to write today so she can make a good start out of the gate. If I was doing it, I'd be a nervous wreck! I am soooo impressed with you all for even trying! Good luck!

Chris said...

Nymeth, The Halloween Tree really was a fun little book. I'm still blown away by that cover. I want a print of it to frame! I said, there were a handful of stories that I loved, but there were so many that I just couldn't get into...I think I'm just more of a novel person...unless of course the short stories are written by one of my favorite authors :p I did discover a few authors along the way though that I'll definitely be checking out a little bit more!

Debi, I thought about Dandelion Wine too for the Plant story in Annie's challenge. If I finish early enough I might read that one as a bonus book. Right now I have a graphic novel done by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean by the name of Black Orchid picked out as my plant book :) I'm excited about that one! I'm excited about writing, but scared that I'm going to have writer's block before I even start, lol! I don't have much to do at work today, so that's what I'm going to spend my work day doing, lol! I'll just make myself a paid author!