Monday, October 31, 2011

A Night in the Lonesome October

In my mind, there is a sliding scale of Halloween. At one end there children dressed as Spider-Man and princess fairies. On the other end, there are gory heads on spikes with blood oozing down. If you ask me, Halloween is at its best when it's in between. Halloween is the time for Draculas and Frankensteins, when bats go eek-eek and ghosts go woo-oo-oo! And no book captures that spirit quite so well as Roger Zelazny's A Night in the Lonesome October.

I hope it's not too much of a spoiler to reveal that this book has everything you would want to see in a book about Halloween. The cover above, which really is not a great representation of the novel, will at least give you an impression of the marvelous cast of characters you will meet inside.

The story takes place in the nineteenth century and covers the month of October. It's not just any October, though: this year, Halloween will fall on a full moon, and that means that a strange cast of characters is about, all preparing for some mysterious event at the end of the month. Some of them are on one side, some on the other, and nobody is quite sure who's on which side, or even who all is playing.

Each of the players in the game has a corresponding animal who helps them, and the narrator is one of those animals: a dog named Snuff. Each chapter of the book covers one day of October and describes the activities of Snuff and his master as they prepare for the end of the month.

I first came across A Night in the Lonesome October when I was researching crossovers, and this book does indeed contain a fantastic tapestry of characters. One of the things I liked about the book is that the characters are depicted as their pop culture versions: rather than sticking too close to the source story or novel, each character is depicted as we are used to seeing them in schlocky films and TV specials. This gives the novel its winking spirit that I found so charming.

It's a fun, quick read, and if you are a fan of Halloween, I recommend finding this book and spending an October with Snuff, his master, and the other players.

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