My absolute favorite holiday of all time is Halloween. One thing that people equate Halloween with is horror anything. There are some Halloween themed stories out there, but the majority of them are catered toward little kids and most are about as bad as you’d expect. For every It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown there’s a million crappy Halloween episodes of Disney Channel shows.
One of the rare gems of this genre is The Halloween Tree by legendary writer Ray Bradbury. Yes, it is young adult but it’s brilliant young adult.
It’s Halloween so of course a group of friends are out trick or treating. They decide to meet their friend Pipkin who is waiting for them outside a haunted house. As the get there they meet a mysterious figure named Mr. Moundshroud and Pipkin gets carried away by a dark something. Now Mr. Moundshroud takes these kids on a journey through time and space to find their friend.
This may sound like a corny Halloween special, but when you read it Bradbury’s genius shines through. It’s not corny in the least. What many Halloween specials lack is hear and character. The story here puts you into the mindset of the boys and you do get a sense of danger of their situation. Their friend can die.
That’s another point where this story excels. The kid was taken by something that looked like it came from hell and can potentially kill him. Other stories may have some evil that is more like some idiot in a Halloween costume than an actual threat.
What this culminates in the end is rather interesting. It’s almost like a Christmas message but it’s from the view of Halloween. That’s rare in every medium. They take Halloween as if it’s a horror movie when in fact all the Halloweens are more about mischief, candy, costumes and having one hell of time with your buds while getting scared out of your ass by some decoration.
The illustrations in the books are the scariest part of the book. We see witches, gargoyles, insects of plenty of things that will give even adults nightmares. There’s one that shows a Forrest getting burned down. It looks like something out of a horror movie. Each chapter has a mask to accompany its number. These masks look like they were thought up by some sick, sadistic freak. Hell, the cover is simply amazing. It looks like a skull, but when you look closely it’s actually all the characters posing really close together. It’s an amazing optical illusion if I do say so myself.
If you’re looking for a Halloween theme book that does not suck, look no further than Ray Bradbury’s Halloween Tree. It’s well written, has that sense of danger and adventure to it and has some seriously scary illustrations. Hell, give this book out as a prize for best Halloween costume if you want.