Book3 10

A Night in the Lonesome October (1993)

A Night in the Lonesome October (1993) was Roger Zelazny’s last novel published during his lifetime and it remains one of my all time favorite books. I’ve read it…so many times I’ve lost count? Each chapter is a day of the month, like a spooky advent calendar, and that sort of lent itself to annual readings for a long time.

The idea is that every time there is a full moon on Halloween, the boundaries between world grow thin. Enterprising folks desiring fundamental change generally gather to open the door to the old ones, while others stand to keep the door closed. It plays out as a sort of game, with identities, allegiances and powers kept secret until the last possible moment. Thus far, the closers have always one, but on this particular Halloween in the late 1800s, there’s no telling who will win the night. That’s because the players are a cast of familiar faces — the Great Detective, the Count, the Good Doctor and his Experiment Man, a man named Jack who’s good with a knife. Each has a familiar. Jack’s is a dog named Snuff: he narrates the tale.

There’s something about how it all comes together — the anthropomorphic animals, the references to classic horror films and stories, the hidden agendas and Gahan Wilson’s delightfully creepy illustrations. It’s a hoot. I love it. I think more folks should read it, but it seems destined to be beloved by a small but loyal readership.

James Warhola did the cover — it’s a bit smooth for my taste, but I admit, I’ve puzzled over who is who in it for many hours at this point.

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