Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Not So Lonesome Night In October

I may be a little bit biased, but A Night In the Lonesome October is the best Halloween book in the history of ever. It has everything you could possibly want from a book; elder gods, titans of horror fiction and talking animals. What more could you ask for?

As everyone knows (and is probably tired of me talking about), I re-read A Night In the Lonesome October every Halloween. The book is broken up into 31 chapters, each representing a day in the life of these odd characters, so it's perfectly made for a monthly read-along. The story is dead simple and involves greats of history and literature like Sherlock Holmes, Jack the Ripper, Victor Frankenstein, Rasputin and Dracula fighting to control the dread elder gods of Lovecraft fame. The book is told from the view point of Snuff, Jack's trusty hound. It's a clever little story, full of quick wit and in-jokes.

I've read it for so many years that I know it as well as the back of my hand, yet I'm always completely enchanted and surprised every year by what a lovely, fun book it is. It's perfect. Sadly, the book was out of print for many, many years and made my yearly suggestions to read it sound like the ravings of a madwoman. I wanted all of my friends to experience how wonderful it was. Finally, this year, A Night In the Lonesome October came back into print. Imagine my tears of joy. I bought myself a new copy, gifted a few and demanded in all caps that everyone on my Twitter feed should read it.

Guess what? Some of them took me up on it! Since I've spent many, many years talking about this book I was fascinated to learn what my friends thought of it too. After some gentle haranguing on Twitter, I have three victi- er, friends who agreed to share their thoughts. Dan B, Jessie H and Stellar Four's own Kathy F are all very good friends of mine who, for some reason, allow me to shout at them about books on social media. Let's all give them a round of applause for not killing me out of sheer annoyance and selling my organs on the black market. They are all incredibly awesome people.

A Night In the Lonesome October is very dear to me and I was afraid it wouldn't live up to the years of hype I gave it, but it won everyone over! Dan B said "I think it lived up to the hype. I do know that I enjoyed it enough to read it again this year, and I only reread books I enjoy quite a bit." while Kathy F said "I loved it. I think I read it years ago when it first came out, a fact I remembered as I got into it. I really loved the POV from the animal companion.". Snuff is definitely a fan favorite!

Since the core of the story involves characters from other famous works of fiction, I was curious how everyone would react to the melding of those icons. Kathy F and I share a brain on most things and I think she's spot on with her assessment, saying "Many of my fav books juggle or mishmash mythologies, so this was perfect for me.It had so many of my favorites too: the Great Detective, the Count, the Werewolf. What made it great though was that none of it was from their POV. Animal companions are a fixture, but rarely do you get to be in their heads. It was fun."

Dan B brings up a good point though, saying "The book is an excellent read. I liked how it's a slow build, and everything and everyone is slowly revealed to you. I think if the book has a failing, it's that if you aren't familiar with the various literary and horror mythologies, you aren't going to enjoy the characters quite as much. Part of the joy is recognizing who is who from descriptions and clues. But, since I did recognize everyone, it's a delight." Dan B hits the nail on the head here, as my fear is always that people won't recognize a character. When you do recognize them though, it's such a cool moment. It really elevates the book. I really think each character was picked with care for their part of the story.

Of course, there's also the fear that I really put the book on a pedestal and no one would see why I thought it was so good. Jessie H, who has her own excellent blog that you should check out, thankfully assuaged me of that fear. "As much as I’ve come to trust Meghan’s excellent book recommendations, [ed- aww, thanks] I was afraid that I wasn’t going to like this book. It’s not something I would have normally picked up on my own and she has certainly hyped it up the last couple of years. I’m glad to report that I’m loving it! I was a bit confused at first with trying to keep all of the characters straight. I’m enjoying the fact that most of the characters are from classic horror and gothic novels! So it’s been fun connecting each of them to their original novel! It has also been delightful trying to figure out which characters are participants in The Game and which side they are on."

A Night In the Lonesome October unfurls and drags you in and it's hard to resist. I am so relieved that everyone enjoyed it! When asked if they were going to join the October re-read club with me, I got a resounded "yes" from everyone! Jessie H started it the right way, "I’ve been doing the one chapter a day thing so I won’t finish it until Halloween night but I need to know what happens! I can’t wait to read it again next year!".

And Dan B? He knows me all too well. "It's quite likely that I will read it again next year. If I choose not to, I'm sure you will be quick to disabuse me of the notion." You are correct, sir!

While October is nearly over this year, it's not too late to pick up A Night In the Lonesome October and see if the world can be saved from Cthulhu by Jack the Ripper! And don't worry, I'll be sure to remind everyone about it next Halloween!
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