Seasonal Reads

Do you find yourself drawn to reread certain books during specific seasons? I certainly do. I never think about rereading The Hobbit until the approach of Thanksgiving in late November. I suspect I associate hobbits with rural life and Thanksgiving is kind of a harvest celebration. I can't imagine attempting another pass through Crime and Punishment except in the dead of winter. I associate Russia with winter, which is silly since Russia experiences all the seasons.

When October rolls around I immediately think of two books: Roger Zelazny's A Night In the Lonesome October and Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla.

A Night In the Lonesome October is Zelazny's last novel. Set in late Victorian England, the story tells of a "game," a competition between openers and closers, concerning a gate between this world and the realm of the Great Old Ones. The story draws heavily on Lovecraft's mythos as well as characters from Victorian gothic fiction. Frankenstein, Count Dracula, and Sherlock Holmes, among others, populate the tale. Each player in the game has a familiar. Snuff, the guard dog and familiar belonging to Jack, tells the story. It's fun to pick out all the references to other stories within the narrative. For better or worse, this novel inspired me to craft some fantasy tales with a cat as the protagonist.

The title comes from a line in the first stanza of Edgar Allan Poe's "Ulalume."

The skies they were ashen and sober;

    The leaves they were crisped and sere—

    The leaves they were withering and sere;

It was night in the lonesome October

    Of my most immemorial year;

Carmilla first appeared in the magazine The Dark Blue in serial form from December 1871 through March 1872 and later as part of Le Fanu's collection In a Glass Darkly (1872). Laura, the narrator and protagonist of Carmilla, lives with her father and two governesses in a schloss in Styria, an Austrian province near Hungary. Laura and her father are English expatriates. Her mother, a Styrian lady, died when Laura was an infant. Laura recalls that when she was six, she experienced a nightmare vision of a beautiful young woman in her bedchamber who lay beside her and bit her on the chest, although Laura's nurse found no wounds on her. Laura is nineteen when the events of her narrative take place and leads a lonely, isolated life in the Austrian countryside. 

Following a carriage accident a young girl named Carmilla is placed under Laura's father's care for three months. Laura recognizes Carmilla as the woman from her dream. Carmilla responds with a story of a similar dream involving Laura. Carmilla evinces many strange habits, including apparent sleepwalking, and complains of incessant languor. The pair become close friends despite Carmilla's occasional romantic advances towards Laura.

Yes, this is a vampire story so Laura's life is about to take a sharp turn for the very weird. A highly entertaining story.

Do any books call to you at a particular season? Let us know in the comments.


  1. Ooh, A Night in the Lonesome October sounds right up my alley. I love the Victorian era and Victorian lit. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I will have to check those out. I do like reading scary reads this time of year.


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