Title: A Night in the Lonesome October
Author: Roger Zelazny
Publication date: 1993
Length: 290 pages
Genre: Fantasy/horror… Halloween!
All is not what it seems . . .
In the murky London gloom, a knife-wielding gentleman named Jack prowls the midnight streets with his faithful watchdog Snuff – gathering together the grisly ingredients they will need for an upcoming ancient and unearthly rite. For soon after the death of the moon, black magic will summon the Elder Gods back into the world. And all manner of Players, both human and undead, are preparing to participate.
Some have come to open the gates. Some have come to slam them shut.
And now the dread night approaches – so let the Game begin.
“The last great novel by one of the giants of the genre.” George R.R. Martin
“A madcap blend of horror tropes and fantasy. . . There aren’t many authors who would set out to write a novel in which the Wolfman and Jack the Ripper were the two heroes . . . And I’m not sure anyone else could have made it work.” Science Fiction Chronicle
“Sparkling, witty, delightful. Zelazny’s best for ages, perhaps his best ever.” Kirkus Reviews
All the hail the absolute delight that is reading A Night in the Lonesome October during the month of October!
In this, science fiction great Roger Zelazny’s final novel, a cast of weird characters gather together to prepare for a secretive ritual known as the Game. Our guide to this world is Snuff, a watchdog who’s much more than just a dog — he’s an active participant, a keen observer, and a meticulous calculator of the intricate variables that determine the location and possible outcome of the Game.
Participants include Snuff’s companion, Jack, a knife-wielding gentleman whose necessary ingredients include grisly remains of fresh kills and cemetery finds; the Count, who resides in hidden crypts and has a bat for a companion; the good cat Graymalk and her witchy companion Crazy Jill; the mad monk Rastov and his snake; and so many more. The Great Detective shows up to poke around and confound the players, and there’s also the Good Doctor, with his lightning-struck house and experiment man to consider. All may be players… or not. And part of Snuff’s job is to determine if they’re in the Game, and whether they’re openers or closers.
Snuff conducts his investigations with the help of the other animal familiars, all of whom have special gifts and abilities. The humans are in the background — it’s Snuff and his friends (and foes) who really matter and who narrate and guide the action.
One of the beauties of this October gem is that the chapters correspond to the days of the month. For many devoted readers, it’s become an annual tradition to read along throughout October, reading each day’s chapter according to the calendar, and ending with a bang on October 31st. For the first time, that’s what I did this year. Such fun! The chapters themselves are mostly short, and it’s easy to keep up and track Snuff’s progress in the build-up to the Game.
I took Jack his slippers this evening and lay at his feet before a roaring fire while he smoked his pipe, sipped sherry, and read the newspaper. He read aloud everything involving killings, arsons, mutilations, grave robberies, church desecrations, and unusual thefts. It is very pleasant just being domestic sometimes.
The writing is very funny and unusual, and the book features great illustrations by Gahan Wilson. Altogether, an October treat that shouldn’t be missed! I can’t say for sure that I’ll make this book an annual reading tradition, but I’ll certainly come back to it in future Octobers as often as I can.
Check out this piece on Tor.com for more: https://www.tor.com/2021/09/30/a-night-in-the-lonesome-october-is-a-perfectly-tricky-halloween-treat/ (and it made me giggle to realize the writer of this piece chose the same paragraph to quote — great minds and all that…)
It may be too late to get the full experience this year, but be sure to track down a copy before October 2022!