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“The October Country” by Ray Bradbury

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I read The October Country as a child, and was particularly entranced by “Uncle Einar” and “The Homecoming”—two stories centering around a family reminiscent of the Addams Family. “The Emissary,” about a dog that tries a little too hard to comfort a bedridden child after his tutor dies in a car crash, has remained one of my favorite horror stories to this day. I recently purchased my own copy of the book and was excited to revisit it.

I still enjoyed the stories I remembered from my first reading, but I also gained a new appreciation for stories that hadn’t particularly appealed to me the first time around. One connection I hadn’t made previously is that in two of the stories—“The Next in Line” and “The Skeleton”—a main character’s irrational (or at least out-of-proportion) fear leads directly or indirectly to their death.

Bradbury is best-known for his Martian Chronicles, but this collection showcases his talent in genres other than sci-fi. Two of the pieces (“The Lake” and “The Emissary”) are ghost stories, while many of the others fall into the realm of magical realism. Overall, I found that I enjoyed them just as much now as I did when I was younger.

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