Monday, October 30, 2017

Goldilox and the Three Scares Classic Horror Week Review: A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny

We're doing something a little different for Halloween this year. This time of year always brings out the monsters. And some of our favorites are the ones from literature. We're looking at retellings and reimaginings of horror classics like Dracula and Frankenstein.

We all have our annual Halloween traditions and I'm so excited to be reviewing a book that is one of my most longstanding traditions after watching The Nightmare Before Christmas. It's a clever monster mash combined with eldritch horrors and is a perfect read for the season! Plus, it acts like the perfect Halloween advent calendar!

A Night in the Lonesome October
Roger Zelazny
Release: August 26, 1993
Goodreads Amazon
Loyally accompanying a mysterious knife-wielding gentleman named Jack on his midnight rounds through the murky streets of London, good dog Snuff is busy helping his master collect the grisly ingredients needed for an unearthly rite that will take place not long after the death of the moon. But Snuff and his master are not alone. All manner of participants, both human and not, are gathering with their ancient tools and their animal familiars in preparation for the dread night. It is brave, devoted Snuff who must calculate the patterns of the Game and keep track of the Players—the witch, the mad monk, the vengeful vicar, the Count who sleeps by day, the Good Doctor and the hulking Experiment Man he fashioned from human body parts, and a wild-card American named Larry Talbot—all the while keeping Things at bay and staying a leap ahead of the Great Detective, who knows quite a bit more than he lets on.

Boldly original and wildly entertaining, A Night in the Lonesome October is a darkly sparkling gem, an amalgam of horror, humor, mystery, and fantasy. First published in 1993, it was Zelazny’s last book prior to his untimely death. Many consider it the best of the fantasy master’s novels. It has inspired many fans to read it every year in October, a chapter a day, and served as inspiration for Neil Gaiman’s brilliant story “Only the End of the World Again.”

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS BOOK! Seriously. I had never heard about it until I was reading some blog post or article of Neil Gaiman's where he was talking about how he would read a chapter of it a day during the month of October. Ever since that day almost ten years ago, my sister and I reread it together every Halloween. Our tradition has expanded to include friends, nephews, and godkids and while it is more often than not read over the phone or skype now it is still much loved by everyone. It’s just so quintessentially Halloween. 

This book is unique as it is told from the perspective of Snuff, the canine familiar of a knife-wielding man named Jack. The whole story is about an eldritch scavenger hunt between some of the most famous horror names in literature who are competing against each other. I'm not going to tell you what happens other than that because if you've ever read a Roger Zelazny book, you know half of the fun is trying to figure out what the heck is going on. Just imagine Sherlock Holmes, Count Dracula, Dr. Frankenstein, Rasputin, and several other well-known characters gathering in one place waiting and preparing for something big that's supposed to be happening on the night of Halloween.

While the story has "human" characters in it, my godkids and nephews love that the whole book is about the animal familiars. Plus, since only a couple of those famous characters are actually named in the book, it kind of gives you your own scavenger hunt as you try to figure out which familiar belongs to who. It took me and my sister years to figure out who one character was.

The tale is fairly lighthearted with quite a few jokes and puns, but when you stop to think about it, the plot is actually quite creepy. It's been proven time and time again that you can't help but fall in love with Snuff as you read. He's definitely the favorite among my family. If you're looking for a new Halloween tradition, I wholeheartedly recommend giving this book a try! We love it! 

Note: Although there are certainly a lot of literary references younger kids won't get, the book still has enough classic horror creatures that they'll be able to recognize instantly and the story is fun enough for them even without knowing who is who. It's my four year nephew's first year getting to participate and he has loved it despite only figuring out that one of the characters is Dracula!

  5 / 5 Stars!

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