Sunday, January 18, 2009

Review – Road Trip of the Living Dead

Celebrity party girl Amanda Feral is back from the dead, and hungrier than ever for a good time. With her zombie gal pal Wendy and vampy gay sidekick Gil, this stone cold fox is dressed to kill, on the prowl, and ready to take a big juicy bite out of Seattle's supernatural nightlife. But what's a zombie chick to do when her 'Mommie Dearest' gets sick? If you're Amanda Feral, you can either ignore the wicked old witch - or bury the past by visiting Ethel before she kicks it. Amanda's not thrilled about the idea of crossing three states just to be criticized. But Wendy, who's always looking for fresh meat, is up for the adventure. And Gil, who just launched his 'luxury' resurrection business, needs to disappear because a pissed-off client is out for his blood.

First, they pack their stiletto pumps and plasma into a skeevy rattrap on wheels that used to be a Winnebago. Then, with a little help from a Korean-ghost hood ornament, a masochist named Fishhook, and a slew of 'moderately accurate' psychics, they hit the highway - their way. Of course, they'll have to navigate past some neo-Nazi skinheads, a horny dust devil, a hunky werewolf cop (who could pass for an underwear model) and an unsightly horde of supermarket shoppers. But for this glamorous gang of ghouls this trip is about to take a dangerous detour that could give road kill a brand new meaning…
If you have just read the book blurb above you know this is no ordinary urban fantasy. Road Trip of the Living Dead is zombie satire written as if Mark Henry was channelling a synthesis of Mel Brooks, National Lampoon, Lenny Bruce and oh add a little Christopher Moore in for good measure. Satire as defined by Wikipedia is a “medley, dish of colourful fruits". Road Trip is very, very colourful (lots of red blood and a variety of other bodily discharges) and fruity (you did pick up about Gil, right?).

Continuing with the Wiki-defined theme, "satire deals with human (in this case human and undead) vices, follies, abuses, or shortcomings that are held up to censure by means of ridicule, derision, burlesque, irony, and sarcasm". Road Trip offered a cornucopia of all of these and I was absolutely amazed and delighted at how Road Trip sustained this for 288 pages.

Road Trip of the Living Dead is told from the first-person perspective of Amanda Feral, our leading zombie lady. The book is her personal journal and she sprinkles footnotes throughout the narrative, 169 of them to be exact (given the nature of the book there is likely some significance to the 69 portion of that). Many of these footnotes are aimed directly at the reader including them in the story in a conspiratorial sort of way – as if you were sitting on a couch with Amanda and she was poking you in the ribs and whispering in your ear. At first these tended to interrupt the flow, but before long I was eagerly looking forward to the next.
156 “I live for those moments. Well…not live, exactly.”
Of course Mark Henry’s zombies are not the zombies of George Romero, shambling around and drooling (they do exist in Amanda’s universe but they are called mistakes). Amanda and Wendy are smart, sexy and not fixated on eating brains. In fact they often eat their meals in several gulps -
She contorted her mouth and jaw into the familiar shark-like biting radius that we do so well.
Boy would I like to see that special effect in a movie.

Road Trip of the Living Dead is laugh out loud funny. Some of the humour is definitely rude and not for the faint of heart, but never mean-spirited. The book is everything an undead road trip should be – strange encounters, supernatural adventure, murder sprees… and shopping. Mark Henry has followed up the successful Happy Hour of the Damned with another winning entry in his Amanda Feral zombie series. Next year promises the release of the next book Battle of the Network Zombies. I can't imagine what will be on the girls menu then. Can't wait.

AUTHOR AND BOOK SHOWCASEOfficial Mark Henry Website

Kensington Publishing
Published: February 24, 2009
ISBN #: 9780758225245
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 288

Amanda Feral Zombie Series:

  1. Happy Hour of the Damned (2008)
  2. Road Trip of the Living Dead (February 2009)
  3. Battle of the Network Zombies (March 2010)


  1. After reading Happy Hour of the Damned, I thought I had decided not to pursue the series anymore. This book sounds so good though that I want to read it now :)

  2. Well the series is surely not for everyone, but it gets its digs in for a lot of cliches and it is very funny in a very absurd way. I definitely wouldn't want Amanda or Wendy as my girlfriends.

  3. Lol. Zombies usually freak me out but this sounds cute!


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