October is my favourite month. It ushers in fall weather, bulky sweaters, pumpkins, colourful and crunchy leaves, and most important of all, Halloween.
Growing up, Halloween was just as (if not more) important than Christmas. Our house would be decorated inside and out, and my mum would make my brothers and I whatever costumes we could dream of. One year, while every other girl was dressed up as beautiful Disney princesses, I opted to go as Dead Snow White. One year, one of my brothers went as a box of Fruit Loops — he actually wore a cardboard box that was so huge he couldn’t walk up stairs to get to people’s front doors. And of course, who could forget my youngest brother’s favourite costume: a handmade Godzilla suit.
Even now as a twenty-something, Halloween is the best. Costumes, decorations and spooky stories have always filled my Octobers, so I naturally feel the need to share some of my favourites.
The Halloween Tree, Ray Bradbury
Bradbury’s novels and short stories are filled with elements of fantasy, sci-fi and horror, which make them natural go-to reads for the Halloween season. The Halloween Tree, however, is written as a children’s story, so it’s not likely to scare your pants off. It focuses on the story of eight young boys, lead by Tom Skelton, who set out to go trick-or-treating. When they notice one member of their group, Pipkin, has gone missing they set out on an eerie adventure to find him.
Pipkin’s disappearance was noticed when the group arrived at a seemingly haunted house owned by the mysterious Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud. He offers to help them find Pipkin, and takes them back in time to discover the ancient customs and traditions of Halloween, and trace its history through the ages. The boys quickly learn that October 31 is not just a night to get free candy; rather, it is a celebration of life and death, and the transcendence of the living and spiritual worlds.
There is a Halloween Tree, which stands on Moundshroud’s property, and it is filled with pumpkins rather than leaves. Its intricate branches represent the diverse history of Halloween traditions and links them all together. While the holiday holds different meanings to different groups, it is still rooted in the same ideas.
Bradbury’s story is beautifully written; it is thrilling, detailed and eerie. The Halloween Tree takes you on an adventure through dark corners and dusty halls. It is a prime example of Bradbury’s literary genius, and tosses you into his world of dark fantasy. The book is also illustrated, and the images match the eerie descriptions of each scene.
You should read this book if you love Halloween.