“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