Halloween by Ray Bradbury, the review: four steps in terror

Halloween by Ray Bradbury, the review: four steps in terror
Halloween, published by Mondadori for the Oscar Draghi series, is an anthology that collects the best of the weird fiction of the writer Ray Bradbury, in four novels and thirty short stories, embellished by the evocative illustrations of the artist Joseph Mugnaini.

A few words about the authors

Ray Bradbury

Raymond Douglas Bradbury (Waukegan, August 22, 1920 - Los Angeles, June 5, 2012) was an American writer and screenwriter, considered a true own innovator of the sci-fi genre.

After a mess of science fiction, detective and noir stories published in various genre literature magazines, in 1950 he collected his Martian Chronicles in a single volume, which obtained a vast international success, making him rise to the fore. It was in 1953, however, that he reached the consecration, thanks to Fahrenheit 451, the masterpiece for which he is most remembered and from which the homonymous successful film directed by Fran├žois Truffaut was made.

In the following years, Bradbury he devoted himself to a career as a screenwriter, without ever interrupting his career as a writer. In fact, his literary production is rather substantial, including novels and short stories (some of which have seen the Myths of Cthulhu as protagonists or boast Lovecraftian atmospheres). To mention a few: Time Traveler, Death in Venice, The Golden Apples of the Sun, Farewell to Summer, The Halloween Tree, The Cemetery of Fools, Constance Against All, The Autumn People, Tangerine and Time Traveler.

Joseph Mugnaini

Joseph Anthony Mugnaini (Viareggio, 12 July 1912 - Los Angeles, 23 January 1992) was an artist and illustrator. He is best known for his collaborations with writer Ray Bradbury, starting in 1952.

Born Giuseppe Mugnaini in Viareggio, Tuscany, he immigrated with his family to America when he was only three months old. He became an American citizen in 1941. He taught at the Pasadena School of Fine Arts, among others.

Numerous, including paintings and drawings, the works produced by the Italian-American master during a very fruitful career: illustrator of more than thirty volumes, author of five manuals of painting technique, co-author of six films, Mugnaini has also dealt with theatrical scenography, winning several prestigious prizes.

Halloween, the anthology

Halloween, released in bookstores just in the period of the characteristic Anglo-Saxon party now cleared also on the Italian shores, collects among its pages a series of works by the writer Ray Bradbury, all steeped in weird and horror atmospheres and often addressed to an audience of teenagers and young people adults. The common thread that unites all these stories is precisely the recurrence of Halloween, which gives the book its name.

Despite the common thread that unites the four novels and the thirty stories in the volume, each story is a world of itself and shares no other link with the other works belonging to this anthology. Each novel and short story, however, is imbued with a gloomy, dark and mysterious atmosphere, which is well suited to the theme of Halloween, masterfully underlined by the gloomy black and white illustrations.

Let's see now together, in brief capo, the synopsis of the four novels that form the main body of the anthology, not being able to dwell on the many following stories, although equally valid and each one peculiar in its own way.

The people of autumn

Will and Jim are two friends, two fourteen year olds, both born on Halloween night, one minute before midnight the first, and one minute after the other. In this evocative tale they will have to face the charms and dangers of Dark and Cooger's terrifying and mysterious funfair, populated by bizarre characters such as the Illustrated Man, the dwarf, the witch. In this story Bradbury will show the reader terrifying and surprising things such as a magical carousel that with its turns is able to make those who climb it travel back and forth in time, to feed on the pain, dreams and emotions of people. In contrast to the evil represented by the amusement park and its creatures, the good represented by the two boys and their deep friendship.

The Halloween tree

In this novel, nine children, dressed for the occasion, are out and about for the Halloween "trick or treat" ritual when they come across a gloomy and gloomy old house near which stands a tree whose branches hang a myriad of carved and illuminated pumpkins. At the same time, Pipkin, the leader of the gang disappears into thin air. And it is on this occasion that Moundshroud, symbol of death, appears and offers to help them. First, however, they will have to learn the truth about the Halloween party, on a journey through space and time, in a sort of Christmas carol of Dickensian memory but twisted in a gothic key that will take them from ancient Egyptian traditions to modern Mexican celebrations.

The cemetery of the fools

The cemetery of the fools differs from the two previous novels, moving away from the bizarre weird atmospheres to launch into a hard boiled detective story. While enjoyable as a novel in itself, in reality it is the second chapter of a detective trilogy formed by the novel Death in Venice first and Constance against everyone then.

The protagonist, a Maximum Film screenwriter, receives an anonymous invitation to go to the nearby cemetery at midnight on Halloween night with the promise of new ideas for a script.

Arrived at the place, he finds the body of the owner of the production company I work for, who was believed to have been dead since twenty years. From this premise an investigation full of twists and endless dangers begins.

Returned from the dust

In this novel that intertwines gothic, horror, weird and a pinch of poetry, the protagonist is a family of strange, bizarre and creepy beings who live in an equally creepy ancient mansion. Despite their strangeness and the horror they bring with them, the author's narrative manages to make these characters so human that it is impossible not to love them. A little 'Addams Family, a little' Carletto the prince of monsters, this novel turns out to be a sweet, poetic fairy tale able to move and excite.

From the editorial point of view

Halloween , editorially speaking, confirms the high quality standard of Mondadori's Oscar Draghi series. The volume of nine hundred and five pages in good paper, light weight but sufficiently strong, is bound with a hard cover with an evocative image.

Beautiful illustrations by Joseph Mugnaini that embellish the text, so beautiful as to be few, we would certainly have appreciated a much greater number.

As per Oscar Draghi tradition, the pages are colored on the coast, in this case in gray. In addition, a note of color that the writer particularly appreciated, the author's name on the cover is treated with a phosphorescent color, which makes it glow in the dark with a ghostly green that is well suited to the Halloween theme. The same effect is also present on the little man depicting the "Oscar Mondadori" logo on the coast of the cover. By the way, have you ever noticed that in the volumes of the Oscar Draghi series all the “Oscars” are themed with the subject of the book?

Here's how the cover looks if photographed in complete darkness ...


Halloween is an anthology of absolute value that cannot be missing from the collection of all Ray Bradbury fans and the weird genre in general. The annotated introduction by Massimo Scorsone is interesting, which gives a fleeting vision of the author, the literary material proposed is of absolute quality.

Four novels and thirty short stories offer a mass to read that will satisfy even the most avid of readers and provide a complete and exhaustive picture of Ray Bradbury's weird poetics. Recommended.

A book suitable for…

Halloween is a volume suitable for an extremely broad spectrum of audiences from weird, horror and gothic enthusiasts to those looking for an entertainment reading high level . The "scary" theme can be a spring on which to push to bring young people closer to reading and therefore we recommend it to a range of readers aged 12/14 and up.

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