No list of Halloween reading can go by these days without a mention of A Night in the Lonesome October. Reading it, one chapter per night, has become practically an established ritual in some horror/dark fiction fan circles. There’s also a virtual cottage industry of interpretation and exegesis around the book’s many riddles, and its free borrowing of just about every Gothic and Victorian horror and pulp fiction character, from the Count and the Great Detective to, of course, Jack and his dog Snuff, familiar and narrator.
As the story goes, every few decades, in October, two factions – the Openers and the Closers – face off in an appointed place to play the Great Game, which will decide whether the culminating ritual on the night of Halloween will deliver another period of relative repose for humanity, or bring back the Great Old Ones and end the world. Needless to say, the Openers have never won – yet. Obviously, this construction also allows for great tension and drama. It was Roger Zelazny’s last novel, and one of his favorites.
Unfortunately, my title is a tad misleading this time, because currently there doesn’t seem to be an available ebook edition of A Night in the Lonesome October. As said, though, it’s indispensable to any rundown of Halloween fiction. Do whatever it takes to find a copy before the 31st – after all, who knows? Maybe this year the Openers will finally win, and you’ll lose your last chance to read it – or do anything else.