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A Night in the Lonesome October Paperback – September, 1994

4.7 out of 5 stars 116 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From 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. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Avon Books (Mm); Reprint edition (September 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380771411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380771417
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4.2 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,540,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
Roger Zelazny is a fascinating, singularly unique writer. What other author gives you the likes of Jack the Ripper, Count Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, and Sherlock Holmes in the same novel? How about Lovecraftian themes and allusions? And it's not even a horror novel. This is wildly romping fantasy at its best. Our narrator is a dog named Snuff; he's no ordinary dog, however. He is the companion of Saucy Jack, the watchdog of unfathomable trapped monsters, calculator of the lines of fate, and immensely important guardian against evil. In certain years, when the moon is right, on All Hallow's Eve, the Elder Gods seek entry back into our world. At those times, the proper individuals and agents instinctively come to the crucial area and seek to either open or close the eldritch gates. During such a lonesome October, these agents prepare their spells and minds for the challenge, while interacting with one another in attempts to learn from, thwart, and sometimes remove their fellow players from the Game. Each player has a companion animal, and it is Snuff's interaction with his cohorts that drives the story along. Snuff's greatest friend is the cat Graymalk, and their relationship and true friendship in the face of possible competition really won me over. The Game is confusing early on, which is at it should be. The reader must struggle to understand not only what the Game actually is but also figure out who and what is on which side of the coming conflict. I remained relatively clueless as to how the final drama would play out, and I am happy to say I did not find it disappointing.
It is interesting to consider the players in this Game.
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Format: Hardcover
Oh, this is lovely! This is inspired! If you find a copy, buy it, read it, cherish it, and know you have my undying envy (I have to rely on libraries).
In this book, Zelazny freely borrows from Stoker, Shelly, Conan Doyle, and Lovecraft (most especially Lovecraft!), screen adaptations of the same, and other popular touchstones. "A Night in the Lonesome October" follows 31 days in the lives of watchdog Snuff and his master Jack, as they prepare for a Halloween ritual. Some players want to bring Lovecraft's ancient gods of chaos back to earth; some want to banish them, at least until the next ritual. Discovering who is who and what is where are vital tasks. The story works in its own right, but the more familiar you are with Zelazny's sources, the more fun it is to read.
The book is not as powerful as some of Zelazny's works, but it is wickedly fun and well worth rereading (many times!) to catch and savor the details.
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By A Customer on October 5, 1997
Format: Paperback
A Night in the Lonesome October.... Close your eyes and journey into this Night. A slight breeze, just strong enough to tatter the clouds, whispers in the trees, rustling the leaves like brittle parchment. It carries in it's slight chill the promise of winter to come, welcome after the sweltering nights of summer. Soon it will be All Hallows Eve with all its attendant sprites and spooks. But there is another deed to be done on that night, that, even though it shall decide the future, will be attended by only the chosen few able to read the portents of it's coming.
Ever thought you'd find yourself siding with the Wolfman, Dracula or Jack the Ripper in any kind of conflict?
Roger Zelazny has taken a cast of characters from literature and screen and combined them in probably the most unique story I've ever had the pleasure to read (and re-read and re-read, ad infinitum). I know a review should talk about the characters and the storyline, etc. but to do so in any way except for the vaguest generalities would definitely cripple the virgin enjoyment of reading this very short novel. Humor, suspense, occult, mystery, history, it's all here. If you were raised in any Western culture you already know the major characters. The story may be vaguely familiar but I assure you it's presented in a way that's completely original. To help you get started here's a general plot. Jack the Ripper is still alive (maybe he's even immortal?) and back in rural England. The predations that he is so famous for are, it turns out, not the doings of a twisted mind, but rather, the necessary preparations for a rare event. Others, such as the Wolfman, Dracula, Dr. Frankenstein, and even the Great Detective, are also converging on the spot where this event will take place accompanied by their familiars.
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By A Customer on July 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
I'm on my third reading of this book in the last three days, and I don't know when I'll be able to put it down. It's all perspective: the perspective of this book is so fresh and vibrant that you see the world from a completely new angle, and a mighty strange and amusing one at that. Everything is somewhat familiar, and yet everything is completely new, and seen from the eyes of a dog. This dog lives with a very unusual person, but all the unusual activities that go on are completely normal to the dog, so they are described in much the same manner as most people would describe going out to their job and coming home again. I realize most of the other reviews have already given a lot away about the plot, which is very sad, because the joy is suddenly discovering things. So, even though those reviews tell you who owns the dog, what the dog's name is, and even who some of the other characters are, I'm not going to do that, and instead say that you should read this book for the joy and humor of the perspective. You can't miss out on it.
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