A Night in the Lonesome October
is a delightful fantasy novel by Roger Zelazny published in 1993, near the end of his life. It was his last book, and I must shamefully admit that I hadn’t read it until recently. The story is narrated as a series of diary entries for the month of October by the dog, Snuff (bottom right on the cover), who is the animal companion of (we presume) Jack the Ripper. It is set in an October where there is a full moon on Halloween, a time when the Elder Gods try to cross a portal into our universe.
A game is played out between the Openers and the Closers, who gather in the month of October near the location of the portal (the exact position of which must be calculated during the month).
The cast of characters includes The Great Detective, the Count, the Good Doctor and his Mechanical Man, Larry Talbot, a Witch, a mad Pastor, a Russian Hermit, perhaps some Grave Robbers. As our hero interacts with the animal companions/familiars of the players, we learn more about the players and which side they’re on. A delightful Victorian gothic fantasy romp, gorgeously illustrated by Gahan Wilson, this is some of the best Zelazny has done. Worth buying just for the graveyard scene, where various players trade body parts — others, not their own.
Note that this year in Australia, Halloween will be the night of a Black Moon — the second new moon in a month!