[REVIEW] Happy Hour of the Damned – Mark Henry

Mark Henry
Happy Hour of the Damned (Amanda Feral, Book 1)
Kensington Books (26th February 2008)
Trade Paperback ISBN: 0-7582-2522-9

You’ve seen it before: authors blurbing other books, claiming ‘I wish I’d written this’. Seems kind of hyperbolic, I know. But then I experienced it. This 300-something-page tome shouldn’t have taken me as long as it did to read. This is my fault because as I started reading, mood-killers kicked in: jealousy, envy and that dreadful thing that’s summed up as ’emo’. I did not want to feel this way, so for the first half of the book I read only in short sessions. For the uninitiated, I’m only an occasional fiction writer. Still, Mark Henry’s writing is so all-encompassingly engaging that I started hating my work and myself, lalala (emo).

Meet Seattle’s supernatural elite, including zombie Amanda Feral. A different take on the myth, the author’s zombies can only drink alcohol and eat people if they want to stay alive without the assistance of Depends undergarments. They have terrible skin that requires mortuary-heavy makeup to look vaguely human and alive. They’re not the stone-faced, unemotional creatures popularised in films.

The gang has a mystery on their hands when a friend calls for help and goes missing. If you’re familiar with the phrase ‘don’t go there’, Amanda generally does ‘go there’. But surprisingly doesn’t eat the babies. That really surprised me, because I so thought she’d eat the babies. Why did she not eat the babies?

But the real mystery is finding out who’s responsible for an outbreak of ‘mistake’ zombies. But really, Amanda Feral is the new Stephanie Plum in that you’re really reading for the characters, not the mystery – though those parts were enjoyable, too 😉

Mark Henry is the new author you’ll love to hate because:

1. He’s created fully formed characters with truly memorable personalities
2. He’s genuinely funny (as opposed to just trying to be funny)
3. He gives zombies new life
4. He makes other authors’ supposedly edgy and feisty heroines just seem lame in comparison
5. He makes use of footnotes in the most entertaining way (I’m talkin’ anal, bitches. Don’t be coy.)
6. He gets away with meandering from the mystery plot
7. He gets away with info dump in dialogue (which Amanda calls ‘interludes’)
8. He lists cocktail recipes, bowling team names and set lists
9. He’s so friendly that you can’t actually hate him
10. He’s so well-versed in the female mind that you have to remind yourself that he ain’t got no va-jay-jay (That phrase wasn’t actually in the book, but it sums up the author quite succinctly.)

Those with low self-esteem be warned: you may feel like your own work sucks (in comparison, at least). But it’s still worth a read; priceless, really. Road Trip of the Living Dead can’t come soon enough.

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