Though best remembered for Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury wrote across many genres and for many ages. The Halloween Tree (1972) is a horror/fantasy Young Adult novel that I probably would have enjoyed as a kid. Alas.
One Halloween, a group of eight boys find themselves taking a spooky tour across space and time to learn the origins of Halloween, which [insert convoluted, unconvincing plot explanation here] is necessary to save the life of the ninth boy, Pipkin.
Bradbury lavishes praise on Pipkin, using over-the-top descriptions to paint him as the best possible boy to have ever walked the earth. I was reminded of Melville's ultra horny descriptions of Billy Budd. There is nothing sexual in Bradbury's portrait--I cannot point to any one line or paragraph that is inappropriate--but taken together, I felt uncomfortable about the intense scrutiny and effusive compliments directed toward an adolescent.
Maybe someone else who's read this book can let me know if I'm being too sensitive.
So I can't really say I recommend it. Kirby Heyborne did a great job narrating, though, considering there were ten characters and none of them were women.
When Covid first hit, I started doing book talks on social media as a way to keep in touch with people. I never got out of the habit. I don't discuss books by my clients, and if I don't like a book, I won't discuss it at all. While I will sometimes focus on craft or offer gentle critical perspectives, as a matter of professional courtesy, I don't trash writers. Unless they're dead. Then the gloves come off.