Oct 31, 2007

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel, because it was All Hallows’ Eve. Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet. Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked.”
The Halloween Tree is the story of what happens to eight trick-or-treater friends on a Halloween night. One of these friends, Pipkin, is taken away by a mysterious Something, and the remaining seven follow a sinister man by the name of Moundshroud across history, in an attempt to rescue their friend.

This voyage takes them to the time of cavemen to Ancient Egypt, to Celtic Britain, to Medieval Euripe and to Mexico, showing them the origins and the meaning of the holiday we now know as Halloween.

I absolutely loved the way Bradbury tied together things like the Egyptian Myth of Osiris, Samhaim and the Mexican Day of the Dead. In their journey, the boys discover what all these different cultures have in common, what lies at the heart of this holiday, what has remained unchanged over space and time. And what lies at the heart of Halloween is darkness, a darkness caused by the seasonal death of the sun, the symbolic death of nature as winter approaches. Halloween, then, is a time of darkness, a time of remembrance of those who are no longer here, and a time of storytelling.

In this book, Ray Bradbury offers a very insightful analysis of the meaning of this holiday, and through it an analysis of human nature in itself. All of this is written in Bradbury’s customary beautiful style, and wrapped in a very atmospheric and gripping story. The book is further enriched by Joseph Mugnaini’s fantastic illustrations. A perfect Halloween treat.

I want to thank Debi for bringing this beautiful book to my attention. I wasn’t even aware of its existence until she mentioned it. I had been looking for it ever since I read her review, and I had more or less given up on finding it before Halloween, but on Monday I finally came across it. I was extraordinarily happy. This really is a perfect book to read at this time of the year.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Other Blog Reviews:
Nothing of Importance
Stuff as Dreams are Made On
The Written World


  1. I can't wait to get off of work now and read this one! I've been anticipating this one for so long...it's like a Halloween TV special wrapped up in a book :) Great review, Nymeth! Happy Halloween to you too!

  2. Happy Halloween, Nymeth!

    I'm so glad you enjoyed The Halloween Tree! I so agree...it really is the perfect little book to read at this time of the year.

    And thank you so very much for the info on folk/fairy tales...I can't tell you how helpful your explanations were! I haven't checked out the article yet, but will shortly. I know I will definitely have Annie read you wrote. Seriously, after all the confusing, often contradictory things I'd read, reading your explanation was such a treat! I finally feel like I have a bit better handle on it. But like I said, I'm just going to have Annie read what you wrote.

  3. I love this book - I don't know how Bradbury does it, but he somehow manages to take all those things that embody Halloween and immerse the reader in them - the sights, the smells, the spooky feelings. I'm glad you enjoyed it, too!

  4. Wow, that sounds like it would be so good. Especially how it would tie different cultures and traditions together. I'm going to have to remember this for next years challenge!!

  5. I really have to read some more Bradbury!! I've seen too many reviews during this Halloween season of his books. This sounds like a delicious little tale!! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Chris: Yup, it's like a Halloween TV special in the shape of a book! That's a good way to describe it

    Debi: You're welcome! I'm very glad to have been able to help you and Annie. And thanks once again for bringing this wonderful little book to my attention!

    Darla: He rwally does it so well it's amazing!

    Court: Do keep it in mind for next year's challenge. It's a perfect Halloween read!

    Stephanie: You do need to read more Bradbury! Before the challenge I'd only read one of his books. Now I've read 3, and I definitely want to read more!

  7. I just read this and loved it! I liked the way he tied the various cultures together too.

    His story got me to thinking about how darkness and death used to be more prominent -- an everyday occurrence. Now we just turn our electric lights on at night, many people live longer lives and many don't face death daily. Of course, there are still those in parts of our world that do.

    All of that thinking out of a little Halloween story!


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