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Happy Hour of the Damned by Mark HenryDevon’s review of Happy Hour of the Damned by Mark Henry
Urban Fantasy released 26 Feb 08 by Kensington

Not long ago, I expressed my belief that zombie were not the best hero/heroine material. Because really, have you seen any zombie movies? No scintillating conversation or sex appeal to be had. So when Sybil mentioned a forthcoming book featuring a zombie heroine, I had to take up the challenge. Let me say, right now, that Happy Hour of the Damned is not a romance. I repeat, NOT a romance.

It falls under the Urban Fantasy umbrella, though I feel a more apt description might be “paranormal chick-lit black comedy.” This book will not be for many romance readers, but the more twisted among us will find it a hoot.

One’s enjoyment of this book will depend upon three things:

  1. Their taste for sometimes dark, sometimes corny, but rather twisted comedy;
  2. Their enjoyment of Henry’s meandering narrative style; and
  3. Their reaction to the main character.

Happy Hour of the Damned (henceforth HHotD) is the first installment in the purported memoirs of Amanda Feral, Seattle ad executive and Abovegrounder (aka zombie). I really didn’t like Amanda at first. Really didn’t like her. Although she doesn’t drool or drop body parts, she is completely self-absorbed, label-conscious, and obnoxious. She hangs out in the local supernatural clubs with BFFs: gay vampire Gil, succubus Liesl, and fellow zombie fashionista Wendy. They guzzle cocktails, smoke butts, gossip, and snark, like something out of Bridget Jones’ Diary or Sex and the City.

Books about shallow people don’t amuse me, so I was not a happy camper at first. But after awhile, Amanda’s tale began to grow on me. She relates her story in a gossipy, loopy fashion, deviating from the plotline to relate her history or that of her friends, punctuating the narrative with drink recipes and advertisements. Her inner thoughts (Inner inner thoughts?) are footnoted on the bottom of almost every page. This device seemed unnecessary at times because, the book is in the first person, and so the reader is already privy to her inner thoughts. But some of those little footnotes are damned funny.

Everything and everyone is so over the top that I began to be amused rather than irritated. These characters are not presented in a romantic or particularly sympathetic way at all. Being a zombie is gross. These fastidious ladies have to dislocate their jaws and chomp down on some humans regularly. It was gross, but funny, and I really started enjoying myself.

Sometimes the flashbacks and asides slowed the book down, but overall it was quite an entertaining read. The only romance ended with someone being eaten, and the only sex was crappy. But if you are willing to forgo the romantic for black comedy, you might enjoy HHotD. I’ll definitely give the next one a try.

Devon's IconGrade: B-

From the back cover:

     Seattle. One minute you’re drinking a vanilla breve, the next, some creepy old dude is breathing on you, turning you into a zombie. And that’s just for starters. Now, the recently deceased Amanda Feral is trying to make her way through Seattle’s undead scene with style (mortuary-grade makeup, six-inch stilettos, Balenciaga handbag on sale) while satisfying her craving for human flesh (Don’t judge. And no, not like chicken.) and decent vodkatinis.

     Making her way through a dangerous world of cloud-doped bloodsuckers, reapers, horny and horned devils, werewolves, celebrities, and PR-obsessed shapeshifters–not to mention an extremely hot bartender named Ricardo–isn’t easy. And the minute one of Amanda’s undead friends disappears after texting the word, “help” (The undead–so dramatic!) she knows the afterlife is about to get really ugly.

     Something sinister is at hand. Someone or something is hellbent on turning Seattle’s undead underworld into a place of true terror. And this time, Amanda may meet a fate a lot worse than death…

     Read an excerpt.

Read more from Devon at Is That a Stake in Your Pocket?