A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny: Review

A Night in the Lonesome October



Synopsis from Goodreads: Snuff, a guard dog who performs thaumaturgical calculations, accompanies his master, Jack, on collecting expeditions into the Whitechapel slums of nineteenth-century London.

Zelazny manages to cleverly combine Jack (the Ripper), Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Frankenstein, and Dracula together with witches, werewolves, druids and many others in this amusing tale of an approaching confrontation that, on the Halloween of a full-moon, will change the cosmic balance of power between good and evil. Told through the eyes of Snuff, Jack’s guard dog, who performs magical calculations in addition to accompanying his master on collecting expeditions into 19th century London. Twists and turns of magical espionage and adventure unfold as this unforgettable tale plays out over the course of 31 lonesome nights in October.

Source: Purchased

My Rating: 5 ginormously large stars/5 stars

My Review: I realize that I am likely the last person on earth to read (and review) Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October, but I am damn glad I finally read it! This book came to me as a recommendation from a well-read friend. I won’t lie; I was a bit afraid I just wouldn’t “get” this book. Quite to my delight, not only did I get this book, but I also loved it, devoured it, and am fairly certain I will read it again and again.

Nearly all of Lonesome October is told from the perspective of animals, a device I have been absolutely partial to since first reading Christopher Moore’s The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove. Among the animals are Snuff the dog, Graymalk
the cat, Needle the bat, and Nightwing the owl. Each of the animals are companions to the Players in the Game. Among the Players are Jack, the Mad Monk, the Count, the Good Doctor, and the Great Detective. One quickly figures out that, yes, all of these characters are exactly who you think they are, and it makes the read so much more fun.

Each of the animals has his/her own unique voice and personality. The reader is
able to connect with these characters just as they would any human character. The interactions between the animals are brilliantly conceived; each animal is, for all intents and purposes, just as much a part of the Game as their human companions. In fact, much of the Game is set up and determined by the animals themselves, who barter and bargain with one another for information that will help their companion win the Game. One of the book’s pure highlights is the animal-to-animal interactions; the animals are strong characters with intelligence, cunning, humor, and loyalty, and every characteristic plays out throughout the novel!

While the reader is left mostly in the dark about what the Game actually is, the reader doesn’t care. The book moves swiftly, the dialogue is very well-written and witty, and so much is going on that the particulars of the Game don’t really matter until the end. And the end, dear reader, is when you need to know the particulars of the Game. While the Game, and by extension, the  ending could have been long and drawn out, Zelazny doesn’t dawdle. Everyone, including the completely involved reader, comes together in the last chapter to play out the Game. If you’re not rooting for your “team” at this point, you need to start from the beginning and read the book again!

Bottom line: I adore this book! Zelazny plays to one of my greatest loves in books, giving the animals their own voice. Why shouldn’t the animals talk or tell the story? After all, the animals are always present and paying attention ☺ (Side note: it would
probably suck for me if my animals ever grew a “real” voice and started talking.) From a technical perspective, everything about this book is excellent as well: the writing style is smooth, the dialogue is top-notch, and the action moves swiftly and smoothly straight through from start to finish. As for whom I would recommend this book to: any adult or mature young adult with a love of the paranormal, animals, and a sense of humor! Happy reading ☺

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