A Night in the Lonesome October —
All is not what it seems…
In the murky London gloom, a knife-wielding gentleman named Jack prowls the midnight streets with his faithful watchdog Snuff – gathering together the grisly ingredients they will need for an upcoming ancient and unearthly rite. For soon after the death of the moon, black magic will summon the Elder Gods back into the world. And all manner of Players, both human and undead, are preparing to participate.
Some have come to open the gates. Some have come to slam them shut.
And now the dread night approaches – so let the Game begin.
Roger Zelazny‘s A Night in the Lonesome October is a wonderful book in every sense of the word, and perfect October reading, set as it is in the month leading up to Halloween. Each chapter of the book covers a day, and in this series of potted reviews here, I’ll cover them in the same way, reading a chapter a day through to the climax. I’m reading the hardcover of the gorgeous edition illustrated by Gahan Wilson, but it’s also available in paperback, ebook and audiobook.
It’s gorgeously written, humorous, completely immersive and one of the greatest things since sliced bread. Do yourself a favor and get onto this straight away. Follow me along by reading a chapter a day for the Halloween season – you can thank me later.
We start with an introduction to our narrator. Snuff is a loyal companion to Jack, a mysterious figure from Whitechapel who spends time walking the streets righting wrongs and digging in graveyards for ‘materials’ to help with his work. An introductory foreword shows Snuff to be a dog that can talk to other animals. He has a sardonic, almost comical narrative voice that leads you in very cosily to Day 1.
Snuff is on his rounds of Jack’s house, checking that the ‘things’ are where they should be. The thing in the mirror is quiet, but the thing in the cupboard is restless and mouthy until Snuff puts it in its place. Snuff is a guard dog. It’s who he is. It’s what he does.
So we’ve already established there’s something going on, Jack’s motives are murky to say the least and he’s preparing for something that sounds nasty at the end of the month, something that possibly involves the ‘things’ he’s collecting. But Snuff is loyal to Jack, and we already love Snuff, so we’re along for the ride.
Day one, and I’m already back on the hook.
William Meikle is a Scottish writer, now living in Canada, with more than thirty novels published in the genre press and over 300 short story credits in thirteen countries.
He has books available from a variety of publishers including Dark Regions Press, Crossroad Press and Severed Press, and his work has appeared in a number of professional anthologies and magazines.
He lives in Newfoundland with whales, bald eagles and icebergs for company.
When he’s not writing he drinks beer, plays guitar, and dreams of fortune and glory.
The Green & the Black —
A small group of industrial archaeologists head into the center of Newfoundland, investigating a rumor of a lost prospecting team of Irish miners in the late Nineteenth century.
They find the remains of a mining operation, and a journal and papers detailing the extent of the miners’ activities. But there is something else on the site, something older than the miners, as old as the rock itself.
Soon the archaeologists are coming under assault, from a strange infection that spreads like wildfire through mind and body, one that doctors seem powerless to define let alone control.
The survivors only have one option. They must return to the mine, and face what waits for them, down in the deep dark places, where the green meets the black.