First Publication: 1993
Reissue: October 2014
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Source: Publisher in exchange for a honest review.
Read for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX Challenge.
As readers of this blog know, Roger Zelazny is one of my favorite writers. When the Chicago Review Press offered me a copy of one of his novels that I never read, I could not turn it down. "A Night in Lonesome October" was the last novel he wrote. Later a couple of collaborations appeared but this seems to be the last one he finished before his death. He was revisiting a basic concept (a gate opening to another world) he used in "Madwand" but that is the end of the similarities. Zelazny tells the story in the first-person which is one of his favorite methods. "First person" might be the wrong phrase since the narrator is Snuff, the dog that appears on the cover. This edition also contains 33 illustrations by Gahan Wilson.
Once every few decades a full moon appears on Halloween night. This thins the fabric of reality between our dimension and that of the Great Old Ones. Men and women with occult knowledge gather during October to perform a ceremony on Halloween night. One group, called "The Openers", is trying to bring back the Old Ones. The other group, "The Closers", is trying to stop the Old Ones from returning. The event is known as the "Great Game". Players try to get others to switch sides. Some go so far as to kill those who oppose them. Each player has a familiar. Snuff is Jack the Ripper's dog. Should the Openers win, the Old ones (Lovecraft's old gods), will take over the world and most likely slaughter humanity. They hope to survive the conflict and gain a position of power.
"A Night in Lonesome October" is Zelazny's love letter to classic fictional characters. The Players include Jack the Ripper, Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, the Wolf Man (named after the character in the film), Frankenstein, and many others. He does an excellent job of capturing the characterization and mannerisms of the characters.
By telling the story from Snuff's point of view Zelazny is able to keep us in the dark about the outcome of the conflict until we reach that fateful night.
Some of my favorite moments in the book is the way Snuff and the witch's cat become friends. Zelazny takes the time to show how the relationship builds from suspicion through to them becoming friends. Also who would think that an author could get you to hope that Jack the Ripper will be successful in his quest?
Overall, it is another fantastic book by Roger Zelazny. It is another story crossed off my "Roger Zelazny Reading Project". It was a perfect book to read for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX Challenge.