[Editor’s note: “All Hallow’s Listen” will be a 3-part series this October, featuring Dave Thompson’s reviews on Halloween-suitable audiobooks. Stay tuned each Friday!]
Review by Dave Thompson: All Hallow’s Listen #1: An October Essential
If you’re looking for a fun story to listen to this Halloween, look no further. Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree is about as essential to October as Linus and the Great Pumpkin. After listening to it, I’m kind of surprised there isn’t a stop motion film from Henry Selick in the works yet.
One fateful Halloween night, a group of boys are taken on a journey by a mysterious prankster named Moundshroud in order to save their friend Pipkin’s life. They travel across the world and through history, exploring the origins and influences of Halloween from ancient Egypt to Celtic Druids, and the Day of the Dead. It’s both breezy and spooky, like you’re taking a train ride through Halloween country, and Bradbury is the conductor and tour guide, and it’s near impossible not to be infected with his joy for the holiday.
Pinchot’s narration is an excellent match for Bradbury’s lush prose, sometimes all boyish excitement, and other times completely haunting. There are times when he whispers, and if you’re in a noisy environment, it would be inaudible. But if you’re in a quiet, and hopefully dark place, listening by the light of Jack O’ Lanterns, it’ll send shivers up your spine
This is one of Bradbury’s October masterpieces, not quite as terrifying or as well-plotted as Something Wicked This Way Comes, but still an incomparable listening experience. If you’re looking for a short book with as much emphasis on fun as on spooky, The Halloween Tree is about as perfect of a Halloween listen you could hope for.