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Party-girl Zombies

March 11, 2008
By Amy Mendenhall
How to describe Mark Henry’s “Happy Hour of the Damned ...”

It’s like Carrie Bradshaw took a wrong-turn and ended up in a George Romero flick ... kinda.

It’s a hip, comedic zombie romp, with a dash of a world domination plot thrown in, yes. But it’s also about a gal-about-town partying at all the in-clubs all night with her best friends, all the while wearing the right clothes. Except the in-clubs happen to be supernatural hot spots, the best friends are a zombie, a sucubus and a gay vampire, and the gal-about-town is a foul-mouthed former ad executive with a taste for BRAINS! Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Amanda, our narrator and she of the hilarious footnotes, became one of the undead by a chance meeting in the elevator with an oozing man with bad breath and a trip over a box of donuts. When she awakens, she believes she may have just suffered a head injury, until she is accosted by Gil, a vampire, who backs off when he realizes she is an abovegrounder: a made zombie who has awareness; and not a “mistake,” those who are bitten and left for dead and are mindless killing machines. Amanda soon meets Wendy, another zombie, while on the prowl for mortuary makeup (the only thing to hide those unsightly veins) and Leisl, the pretty sucubus. Amanda and her cohorts are perfectly happy to drink cocktails at all the right spots and scare up a snack or two off the local homeless (or oops! a boyfriend) but when Amanda gets a strange cry for help text message from Leisl and she’s missing, Amanda decides to help and drags Wendy and Gil along for the ride. A similarly missing werepanther and a missing artifact are the clues Amanda has to go on, leading her to a meeting with a woman who may or may not be the Devil, a hottie vampire, a local weather personality, and more than a few appearances on the supernatural’s version of “Punk’d,” not to mention rampant “mistake” attacks, and run-ins with the scariest little girls possible.

Henry is a darkly comedic storyteller, bringing to undead life characters that aren’t “nice,” but are extremely entertaining. And though I generally have a fear of all things zombie, Amanda’s just too darn fun to be scared of. You might well enjoy having a cocktail with her, just don’t do lunch. Or Starbucks. You may never want to darken their door again.

“Happy Hour of the Damned” is published by Kensington Books. It is $15 and 320 pages long. Look for a sequel, “Road Trip of the Living Dead” soon.

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