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Road Trip of the Living Dead
Mark Henry
Kensington Books, 288 pages

Road Trip of the Living Dead
Mark Henry
Mark Henry recently traded a career in the helping profession to scar minds with his fiction. He attributes his ideas to premature exposure to horror movies, and/or witnessing adult cocktail parties in the 70s. He's been further formed by surviving earthquakes, typhoons, and two volcanic eruptions. He, surprisingly, lives and breathes today in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two dogs.

Mark Henry Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Michael M Jones

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First in his debut novel, Happy Hour of the Damned, and now in his follow-up, Road Trip of the Living Dead, Mark Henry has successfully subverted the sexiness of the supernatural, by plugging into the profane and earthy viewpoint of zombie party girl, Amanda Feral. Once again, our flesh-eating socialite is up to her undead ears in trouble, but this time, she's hitting the road in search of a little adventure and some new scenery. Her motivations are multiple. 1) Go see her mother, currently dying in a hospice... and help speed up the process. Guess who's got some severe issues, and wants to smother her dying mom with a love-flavored pillow? 2) Keep one step ahead of the angry porn king-turned-vampire and his werewolf minions. 3) See a few sights, have a few laughs, devour a few K-Mart shoppers.

Naturally, it's never that easy. As Amanda and her best friends, fellow zombie Wendy and vampire Gil, set out, they stumble over a whole variety of oddball people and bizarre incidents. From "borrowing" the world's nastiest Winnebago, complete with its paranoid, masochistic owner, to visiting an assortment of oracles and psychics, from a hunky werewolf cop to a creepily-normal family unit, it seems as though the road is nothing but one hazard after another. Will our heroine reach her destination before her mother ungraciously shuffles off the mortal coil, or will she get sidetracked while looking for a quick snack?

Perhaps it's because the book is filtered through Amanda's perceptions, but it really does feel as though every trace of sensuality, sexiness, or beauty in the setting has been shot down, replaced by the never-ending snarktastic commentary of the main character. It's impressive just how squalid and disgusting the underlying tone is, from the way Amanda deals with people, to how she sees her surroundings, to how she recounts important episodes from growing up. It's not pretty, it's not gentle, and Amanda Feral really does live up to her last name, as far as attitude and sophistication are concerned. Even the one sex scene -- yes, zombies can have sex, God help us all -- loses any trace of eroticism once Amanda's had her way with things. Foul-mouthed and irreverent, Amanda drags the viewpoint down into the gutters, providing a distinctive take on the world.

And yet, this isn't a bad thing. It makes for a memorable book at the very least, an urban fantasy that definitely stands out from the crowd. Partially fascinated, partially consumed by morbid curiosity, I enjoyed this book, and was more than a little amused at the bizarre turns the plot took. So once again, Mark Henry gets points for creating something new, unusual, and daring, a zombie adventure that proves they're not all about "braaaaaains." Here's looking forward to the next in the series.

Copyright © 2009 Michael M Jones

Michael M Jones enjoys an addiction to books, for which he's glad there is no cure. He lives with his very patient wife (who doesn't complain about books taking over the house... much), eight cats, and a large plaster penguin that once tasted blood and enjoyed it. A prophecy states that when Michael finishes reading everything on his list, he'll finally die. He aims to be immortal.


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