A Night in the Lonesome October

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Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

In the murky London gloom, a knife-wielding gentleman prowls the midnight streets with his faithful watchdog Snuff--gathering together the grisly ingredients they will need for an upcoming ancient and unearthly rite. And all manner of players, both human and undead, are preparing to participate.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Leaving his ever-popular and ever-expanding Amber series behind for the nonce, Zelazny delivers a cheerful, witty, well-crafted fantasy narrated by Snuff, dog-companion to Jack the Ripper. It seems that Jack is in fact a sorcerer and his gruesome exploits were perpetrated in the service of his magic. But the Ripper's killings are tangential to the tale of an upcoming struggle between magical personages. In a rare occurrence, the cosmic forces are in alignment, permitting an opening for the Elder Gods to return to Earth. ``Openers'' are contending with ``closers,'' who want to keep the Elder Gods shut out. Snuff recounts the day-by-day preparations as players size up the competition, gather their magical arsenals and make and break alliances. Snuff himself maneuvers among other familiars (a cat named Graymalk, a snake called Quicklime, etc.). An instantly recognizable gothic compliment of characters includes a mad doctor trying to reanimate a patchwork corpse with lightning, a werewolf named Larry Talbot and a ``Great Detective'' who haunts the sidelines. Zelazny handles this material with a charm few can match, and while this novel does not approach the depth of his best work like Lord of Light , its deft, understated good humor and spare, poetic prose reaffirm Zelazny as one of fantasy's most skilled practitioners. (Aug.)
Ray Olson
Scorching the heels of Whitley Strieber's H. P. Lovecraft homage, "The Forbidden Zone" , comes this lighter-toned tale that honors not only H. P. but a lot of other monster makers and is a contribution to Sherlockiana and a shaggy dog story, to boot. It's told by Snuff, watchdog companion to Jack, a mysterious, knife-bearing fellow. Jack's one of several weird personages sojourning in the outskirts of late-nineteenth-century London and awaiting a fateful Halloween when the gateway to the alternate reality inhabited by the Elder Gods of Lovecraft's Cthulhu stories may be opened and its openers and closers--Jack and the other awaiters--will struggle to save or destroy the world as humans know it. Each opener and closer has an attendant animal, and Snuff recounts primarily their doings day-by-day during the portentous October of the title. Meanwhile, the Great Detective's also sniffing about. Full of names and epithets--Larry Talbot, the Count, "the experiment man"--that will give horror buffs frisson after frisson of eldritch delight, the romp seems to owe its inspiration more to its copious illustrator, cartoonist Gahan Wilson, than to Zelazny. Great fun.
Kirkus Reviews
After years of unprepossessing folderol—the wearisome Nine Princes in Amber retreads are depressingly typical—Zelazny bursts forth with, well, "Victorian light supernatural fantasy" just about covers it. Narrator Snuff, a guard dog who performs complex thaumaturgical calculations in his head, has many duties: to keep various Things firmly trapped in mirrors, wardrobes, and steamer trunks; to accompany his master, Jack—he of the magical blade—on weird collecting expeditions into the graveyards and slums of Victorian London; and—for a single hour each night—discuss the day's goings-on in human speech. Snuff's neighbors include: Jill the witch and her familiar, Graymalk the cat, with whom Snuff forms a friendly alliance; Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Frankenstein, Dracula, a werewolf, and a satanic vicar. The witches, detectives, doctors, vampires, etc., along with their equally industrious familiars, trade information and scheme for advantage as the full moon of Halloween approaches; at that time, a magical showdown to decide the fate of the Earth will occur. Some of the characters are "openers," determined to open a magical doorway allowing the Old Gods to reoccupy the Earth; others are "closers," equally resolved to keep the magical door nailed shut; and a few are involved yet stand outside the Game altogether. Snuff's problem is to discover who is which. Sparkling, witty, delightful: Zelazny's best for ages, perhaps his best ever.
From the Publisher
“Sparkling, witty, delightful: Zelazny’s best for ages, perhaps his best ever.”  —Kirkus Reviews

“A cheerful, witty, well-crafted fantasy. . . . Its deft, understated good humor and spare, poetic prose reaffirm Zelazny as one of fantasy’s most skilled practitioners.”  —Publishers Weekly

“The last great novel by one of the giants of the genre.”  —George R. R. Martin

“Jack the Ripper meets Dracula, Dr. Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes, and a few other choice individuals in this romp through the annals of literary horror and mystery. . . . Zelazny’s quirky humor and Wilson’s appropriately creepy drawings complement each other in grand style.”  —Library Journal

“A madcap blend of horror tropes and fantasy. . . . There aren’t many authors who would set out to write a novel in which the Wolfman and Jack the Ripper were the two heroes. . . . And I’m not sure anyone else could have made it work.”  —Science Fiction Chronicle

“Bewitching . . . a supernatural romp.”  —Philadelphia News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380771417
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/1/1994
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.89 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Roger Zelazny (1937–1995) is best known as the author of the critically acclaimed Chronicles of Amber series. He wrote more than 40 novels and won the Nebula award three times and the Hugo award six times. Gahan Wilson is an award-winning author and cartoonist whose artwork has appeared in numerous publications, including National Lampoon, the New Yorker, and Playboy.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2013

    I'm a big Zelazny fan, but not so much of horror. I really enjo

    I'm a big Zelazny fan, but not so much of horror. I really enjoyed this book, and all of the plot twists. Now I pull it off the bookshelf every year on October 1st, and read it throughout the month, finishing on Halloween to match the chapters in the book. Snuff!! Was there ever a more faithful companion?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2004

    A Homage to the Classics of Horror

    This charming book is simply fun to read, especially if you're a fan of old horror novels and movies. Snuff the watchdog, faithful companion of knive-wielding hero Jack, narrates the story with a wry sense of macabre humor. Zelazny brings together an 'all-star cast' of literary greats (how often do Dracula, Frankenstein and Sherlock Holmes, share the same bill?) but the main characters are in fact the animal familiars each supernatural 'player' employs. The relationship between Snuff the dog and Greymalk the cat is especially amusing. They get along quite well, despite being both natural and super-natural enemies. There's also a chapter that will delight (or perhaps offend) fans of H.P. Lovecraft. The book is fairly lighthearted, though there are a few darker moments. But, if you like the old horror standards, this is a great read, especially around Halloween.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2001

    Amazing book!

    This story was extremely good, in my opinion. Zelazny took the Lovecraftian mythos and turned into a battle between openers and closers. Extremely well written, without the elements of terror that Lovecraft includes. Excellent, nontheless!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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