A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodness gracious, I am super late writing this review. My schedule just exploded after the middle of October, and I had no time. Because it's been nearly a month, I don't have the best memory of all the plotlines. But I promised I would write a review for every book I read, so better late than never, and my review will be of the more general sort.
I was fortunate to find this at my library and it fit very well thematically into my October Scare Fest reading. I enjoyed it overall. It's an odd little book, no question about it. I would consider it a bit of a pastiche to the famous literary figures of Dracula, Frankenstein and his monster, Sherlock Holmes, Merlin-type druids, and the Wolfman. I rather enjoyed that about this book. What I loved the most is that the narrators are the familiars, or animal companions of the human (or humanlike characters). They all strike up a strange sort of friendship driven by mutual interest and that old adage that drives too many middle grade friendships, especially among girls: better to be friends with someone than to have them as an enemy.
The story's chapters are broken down into each one representing a day in October. They are getting ready for some very important magical event that will have seemingly profound consequences. It sort of reminded me of the Highlander movie where the various characters are pairing off against each other, but this was more of a semi-good versus evil sort of standoff. Just my take. Forgive me if I am way off here. I didn't quite understand all of that, but I don't think it was as important as the unfolding paranormal mystery as various human (or humanlike) characters start to be picked off, one by one. The main character is a dog, who is the familiar of a male wizard. He's an endearing narrator. I liked how he plays dumb dog when necessary, but he's not the average canine (I truly feel some dogs are incredibly intelligent, so don't assume I'm picking on dogs here). I liked his wry and atypical friendship with a cat, who is the familiar of a witch. Along with the fact that their humans are striking up a courtship that may not end well if they end up choosing opposites sides. There is also a bat, rat, snake, and owl character. I'm sorry I don't remember all their names. I do remember the snake's name was Quicklime, so go figure. Strangely enough, the humanlike character who was most developed was Larry Talbot. Classic horror movie buffs will recognize that name as that of the Wolf Man. He did have the tragic vibe of the character in the movie, but he was quite likable.
This book isn't that deep. I mean it's a short book and probably has some hidden meaning, and I think a very prominent satirical tone that some readers will pick up on immediately. It's not super scary, it's a bit. Enough to make for a nice Halloween read.
I'd say this one is worth tracking down if you can find it at your library. Unfortunately, it's out of print.
A good read for this time of year. And fun for animal lovers like myself.
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