In the days of October before the night of Halloween, a group of magicians gather with their familiars to prepare for the Great Game. The players may be Openers or Closers. None of them know who is an ally and who is an enemy. The familiars work amongst themselves for information and knowledge, watching their masters and drawing up the patterns for the final fateful night. Loyalties are tested, deals are forged and broken, players are hunted and even killed, and all the while, the common populace is kept unaware of the goings-on. They cannot know that the fate of the world is being decided.
The story is presented in a nearly episcopal format, each day of October being described almost like a diary entry by the narrator, Snuff, who is as clever and loyal as watchdogs go. A number of the characters are familiar faces to those who know their classic Victorian horror and Gothic fiction. They are rarely explicitly named, but one would recognize the Great Detective and his Companion, and the Count, and the Good Doctor and his Monster. Even the Great Old Ones make an appearance.
First off, I love this book. I found it as a recommendation by the mysterious and magical wise wizard Neil Gaiman in a list for the All Hallows’ Read, and picked it up on a whim after a skim through of the plot. I had expected something interesting, but was completely unprepared for just how wildly original and entertaining it was. A Night in the Lonesome October is truly a masterpiece, and rightfully a favorite of its author, Roger Zelazny.
To anyone who wishes to be frightened, astounded, and enthralled by a delicious plot, unforgettable characters, and familiar faces, 10/10 would recommend this book. I give it all five stars, and sneak in a little extra.