A Night in the Lonesome October

Well, I’ve reviewed other Zelazny titles, so I’ll take a look at this one. But I was not as fond of this book as many are. (I actually had to scrounge for my paperback copy a few years ago and paid a relatively high price for it.)

Low Res Scan: A Night in the Lonesome October, Roger Zelazny, 1993.night in the lonesome october

Yes, we have a book nicely segmented into 31 chapters so you can read it, as so many people do, a chapter a day in October.

Yes, it’s narrated by a dog. Not just any dog — Jack the Ripper’s dog.

Yes, Frankenstein and his walking lab project and Dracula show up. Larry Talbot the Wolfman does too.

There’s a witch, a Russian monk, a bit of Yog-Sothethery. You can throw in Gypsies, grave robbers, and a vicar too.

Sherlock Holmes and Watson even show up though here only known as the Great Detective and his sidekick.

Most of those characters, except Holmes and Watson, have animal familiars who often talk to each other — which I found the most amusing part of the book.

And most of the characters are jostling for position (figuratively and literally) to make the best of the magical rite on October 31st — at least the Halloweens with a full moon. There are two camps — the openers and the closers. One camp wants to open a dimensional door so the Elder Gods can come through. The others want to keep it closed.

The whole thing is referred to as the “Game” which put me in mind the Great Game, the  covert conflict between the Russian and British Empires in the 19th century, and a spy novel in general. The characters mostly know who the other actors in the Game are. They spend a lot of time determining if their fellows are openers or closers, allies or enemies, possible allies or enemies. It’s like a spy story where characters urbanely try to discover identities and incite defections. And, like a spy story, things get violent on occasion.

It’s a quick read with many Gahan Wilson illustrations, and I didn’t dislike it. I just didn’t get the enjoyment the book’s reputation led me to expect. A novel story told in a novel way but, ultimately, kind out of phase with my emotional wavelength.


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