Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962) by Ray Bradbury
This is a masterpiece of modern Gothic speculative fiction. It is a memorable story of two boys who are lifelong friends, though almost polar opposites. Jim Nightshade (dark-haired, dare-devil, risk-taker) and Will Halloway (light-haired, quiet, voice of reason) will come to grips with a smiling evil that tries to take over their small Midwestern town through the charm and lure of a colorful carnival. These two youngsters, along with Will's father--who has always considered himself too old--manage to take on the dark forces behind the carnival and save the souls of their fellow townspeople.
Listening to Bradbury's prose was a delicious experience. I could sit back and just immerse myself in the words. The narrator wasn't named in the version I downloaded, but his voice was an excellent match for Bradbury's word magic. Bradbury's writing is so descriptive and right that it effortlessly places you exactly where and when he wants you to be. I first read this when I was young and enjoyed it for the adventure and the steadfast friendship of the boys. Reading (listening to) it as an adult is much different. I still enjoy the adventure. But I am more interested in the battle between good and evil and the viewpoint of Charles Halloway when he tells us in the book's final chapters that the evil and the fear & suffering that fuels that evil may be here, right now, every day, in us. And that evil only has the power we give it--by feeding it with all the negatives of the world. We hold the power to prevent evil, if we will only use it. ★★★★
First line: First of all, it was October, a rare month for boys.
Last line: Then, as the moon watched, the three of them together left the wilderness behind and walked into the town.