Happy Hour of the Damned
Published 2008 288 pages
Reviewed by Katherine Petersen
Summary (from the book jacket)
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 & horned devils, werewolves, celebrities, & 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 might meet a fate a lot worse than death…
Happy Hour of the Damned is the first installment of the memoir of Amanda Feral, a newly created zombie, undead socialite and the queen of snark. Let’s face it: she’s a snob, but in a hilariously funny, don’t-take-yourself-too-seriously way. With top-of-the-line designer clothing and accessories, uber-expensive skin-care items and mortuary-grade makeup (she needs it to cover up the blue veins), she knows her business. She spends a good deal of time drinking cocktails with her three best friends—hence the name of the book—but you probably would too if your only other option for sustenance was human flesh. Former favorites like coffee and doughnuts have disastrous effects and top the “no-no” list. Oh, and she works as an advertising executive, and she’s good at it, but work isn’t her top priority.
We first meet Amanda on a Saturday night at the Well of Souls for a gossip/cocktail fest with Wendy, also a zombie; Gil, a gay vampire; and Liesl, a succubus. But instead of Liesl sauntering into the bar, Amanda receives a text message from her with just the word “help.” So begins her investigation into the disappearance of her friend, which leads to the discovery of a more sinister plot unfolding in Seattle’s undead society. Amanda gets into more than a few scrapes along the way. These can prove serious as zombie skin doesn’t exactly heal.
You’ve never read anything like Mark Henry’s urban fantasy debut. And if you’re a fan of humor with a darker, biting, over-the-top flavor, then this book’s for you. If you’re looking for romance, steer clear of this one. Henry has brought the underworld of Seattle to life with expertly developed characters and exquisitely visual descriptions, allthough some of them aren’t so pretty... “Instead of heading off down the sidewalk, Gil led me deeper into the alley, where the stink promised piss puddles and trannylicious crack whores with butterfly knives.”
Henry has an innate talent for writing, for putting words together like no other in lyrical prose that vibrates with life (or death in this case). He knows how to build a supernatural world. Zombies, vampires, werecreatures and succubi are just a few of the creatures you’ll meet. Honestly, I had to look up some of the names. Most of the creatures play peripheral roles although we see a bit more of the succubi and vampire societies. Gil comments that when he was created, they just drained out the old blood and pumped in the new. But what a world: Vampires drink blood from sparkling martini glasses, Amanda & Wendy steal their makeup from mortuaries and each human has a unique scent and flavor. It’s twisted and it’s wonderful.
Henry either knows his pop culture, fashion, music, etc. or has done his research well. The references roll off his tongue effortlessly. I hate to admit it, but some of them went over my head, but I truly appreciated the ones I understood.
Henry pokes fun at just about everything from overly long coffee drink names, to music, to horrifying fashion taste and celebrities. An example? Dave Matthews is the musical equivalent of backwash. Henry includes footnotes at the bottom of most pages for explanations and clarifications and letting us a bit further into Amanda’s inner thoughts. He also includes club set lists and recipes for some of Amanda’s favorite cocktails like the Green Demon and Black Magic.
Henry handles the mystery like a pro with the proverbial dead ends, twists, more than enough suspects and a few surprises. While Amanda fully embraces who she is, there’s room for growth, and she does experience some personal epiphanies. I highly recommend Happy Hour of the Damned and can hardly wait to read the next volume in the series, Road Trip of the Living Dead.
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