Two fashionista zombies on the lam leave a trail of carnage from Seattle to Rapid City, S.D., in this unabashedly raunchy sequel to 2008's Happy Hour of the Damned. Narrator Amanda Feral, who sneers at the poor fashion sense of her victims before eating their brains, coaxes fellow zombie Wendy Miller to accompany her on a visit to Amanda's dying, abusive mother. They pick up the pace when their vampire friend, Gil, offends a strip club owner, who chases them with a pack of werewolves. Someone also keeps beheading members of Amanda's pickup entourage, but it's hard to credit her outrage given her own homicidal proclivities. Casual browsers drawn in by sarcastic, hip comments may be taken aback by deliberately filthy incidents involving genitalia and excrement; this is not a tale for the weak of stomach. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Road Trip of the Living Deadby Mark Henry
With her zombie gal pal Wendy and vampy sidekick Gil, celebrity party girl Amanda Feral is ready to take a big 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.
Packing their stiletto pumps and plasma into a sketchy rattrap on wheels that used to be a Winebago, Amanda, Wendy, and Gil hit the highway. Of course, they'll have to navigate past some neo-Nazi skinheads, a horny dust devil, a hunky werewolf cop, and an unsightly horde of Kmart 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. . .
Praise for Mark Henry and His Amanda Feral Zombie Novels
"Fun, fun stuff. I'll never think of zombies in quite the same way again." Patricia Biggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author on Battle of the Network Zombies
"Sexy, funny, and twisted. You've never read anything like this!" --Richelle Mead on Happy Hour of the Damned
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Road Trip of the Living Dead
By MARK HENRY
KENSINGTON BOOKSCopyright © 2009 Mark Henry
All right reserved.
Chapter OneRaising the Dead for Fun and Profit
Nowadays, anyone with a wallet full of cash and a little insider knowledge is getting into the Supernatural life. And, I do mean anyone. Criminals, politicians, even—brace yourself—entertainers are plopping down tons of cash for immortality. —Supernatural Seattle (June 2008)
Gil brought lawn chairs to the cemetery—not stylish Adirondacks, not even semi-comfortable camp chairs (the ones with those handy little cup holders). No. He dug up some cheap plastic folding chairs, the kind that burrow into your leg flesh like leeches. He arranged them in a perfect semicircle around a freshly sodded grave, planted an iBoom stereo in the soft earth, pulled out a bottle of '07 Rose McGowan, and drained half of it before his ass hit plastic. Granted, he managed these mundane tasks in a pricey Gucci tuxedo, the tie loose and dangling. On any other day, this would have been his sexy vamp look, but tonight ... not so much. His eyelids sagged. His shoulders drooped. He looked exhausted.
I, on the other hand, looked stunning.
One of those movie moons, fat and bloated as a late-night salt binge, striped the graveyard with tree branch shadows, and spotlit your favorite zombie heroine reclining starlet-like on the polished marble of the new tombstone—there was no way I was subjecting vintage Galliano to the inquisition of plastic lawn chairs; the creases would be unmanageable.
Wendy didn't take issue with the cheap and potentially damaging seating. She wore a tight pink cashmere cardigan over a high-waisted chestnut skirt that hit her well above the knee. She crossed her legs and popped her ankle like a 1950s housewife, each swivel bringing attention to her gorgeous peek-toe stilettos—certainly not the most practical shoe for late-night graveyard roaming, but who am I to judge?
The dearly departed were our only other company; about twenty or so ghosts circled the grave—in a rainbow of moody colors and sizes. A little boy spirit, dressed in his Sunday best and an aqua green aura, raced by, leaving a trail of crackling green sparks; the other, older specters muttered to each other, snickered and pointed. Popular opinion aside, zombies do not typically hang out in graveyards—ask the ghosts. We don't crawl out of the ground all rotty and tongue-tied, either. We're created through bite or breath, Wendy and I from the latter. So you won't see us shambling around like a couple of morons, unless there's a shoe sale at Barney's.
"You're killin' me with The Carpenters, can't you skip this one?" I stretched for the iPod with my heel trying to manipulate its doughnut dial. Karen was bleating on about lost love from beyond the grave—and just a little to the left. "She's forcing me to search my bag for a suicide implement. I swear I'll do it."
"No shit. Her warble is drawing the less-than-present out of the woodwork." Wendy looked over the top of huge Chanel sunglasses—she seemed to wear them as a joke, so I refused to comment. She'd be more irritated with every second that passed. Such a simple pleasure, but those are often the best, don't you find?
"Bitches." Gil opened an eye. "This is a classic. Besides, Markham put this playlist together."
"Who's that?" I'd decided against self-harm and opted for a smart cocktail. I pulled a mini shaker from my bag and followed that up with miniature bottles of vodka, gin, and rum. Who says Suicides are just for kids? I mixed while Gil chattered.
"Him." He jabbed a thumb toward the grave. "That's Richard Markham; they call him the Beaver King. He's a millionaire, entrepreneur, and genuinely bad guy. He owns a chain of strip clubs, you might have heard of them. Bottoms."
When neither of us registered a hint of recollection, he became animated.
"You know. He's been in the news recently because of some shady business deals. He also coined the phrase 'All Bottomless Entertainment'."
"Don't you mean 'all nude'?" Wendy asked.
"No. 'All Bottomless.' He's decidedly anti-boobs. His clubs feature blouses and beaver. It's a very specialized niche."
"Well then, this should be fun." I stuck a straw into the shaker and sucked.
It was nice to see Gil's enthusiasm; he had been a complete ass-pipe since he'd opened Luxury Resurrections Ltd., stressing about every little detail. I had to hand it to the guy. After the money dried up—his sire left him a hefty sum in their bank account and then left (said Gil was too needy)—he launched his plan to charge humans for vamping. He was one of the first in Seattle, but the copycats were close on his heels. A few months later he bought into my condominium—not a penthouse like mine, but a pretty swank pad, nonetheless.
"Explain to me again why we're out here?" Wendy struggled to separate her legs from the sweaty straps—I cringed, afraid that she'd leave some meat on the plastic; we were fresh out of skin patch—they finally released with a slow sucking sound. She massaged the pattern of dents on the backs of her legs. "It's not like vampires need to rise from the actual grave. It's a little melodramatic. Don't ya think?"
"Yeah." I drained the final droplets from the shaker with loud staccato slurps. The alcohol seeped into my veins, flooding them with welcome warmth.
"I told you, I have to provide an experience with the Platinum package," Gil huffed, then snatched up his man bag and dug through it. He pulled out some Chapstick, spread it on in a wide "O," retrieved a crumpled brochure, and tossed it at me. "Here. Service is the only thing that's going to set my business apart from the chain vampire manufacturers. I provide individualized boutique-like vamping, at reasonable prices."
"Mmm hmm." I slid from the headstone, carefully hopscotched across the grave—I'd hate to misstep and harpoon Gil's client, or worse, break off a heel in the dirt—and stood next to Wendy. I smoothed the crinkled paper and turned to catch the moonlight.
"The Platinum Package," I read aloud. "Includes pre-death luxury accommodations at the Hyatt Regency, voted by readers of Supernatural Seattle as the best undead-friendly hotel in the city, a thorough consultation with a vamping specialist, a fully realized death scenario, including funeral and interment, bereavement counseling for immediate family, and an exclusive orientation to the afterlife from the moment of rising. Hmm."
"I spent a lot of time on that." Gil beamed.
"Yeah, at least fifteen minutes." My eyes found a series of numbers after the description, that if it weren't for the dollar sign, I'd have mistaken for binary code. "Can I ask you a question?"
"Is this the price down here?" I pointed out the figure.
Wendy took a slug from a crystal-studded flask—she couldn't find her usual Hello Kitty one. Immediately, her skin took on the rosy glow of most living alcoholics. I love the look: almost human.
"One million dollars, Gil? You call that reasonable pricing?"
Wendy did a spit take that flecked the brochure and my hands. "Jesus! So, if that's the platinum, what's the bronze package, then?" Wendy asked, wiping at the Grey Goose trickling from her nose. "A drive-by vamping?"
"Cute." Gil tongued and sucked at his fangs in irritation.
He shrugged off our outrage and plopped down in his own lawn chair. "Five hundred grand is the going rate nowadays, the markup is for my fabulous luxury features. It's not cheap, but look what you get ..." He swept his hands from his head to toes like a game show hostess. "... a super hot greeting party. And ... a couple of hot go-go dancers."
"Where?" I looked around. "Are they late?"
"Why, you two pork chops, of course. You remembered to leave the panties at home, right?"
"Oh yeah. Of course." I plucked a miniature Goldschläger from my purse and drained it. "When am I not airing out the chamber of horrors?"
"Me, too," Wendy said. "Totally commando."
"Gross." Gil covered his mouth, heaving. "Let's not talk about the vage, anymore. I think I'm traumatized."
"You started it." I tossed the empty bottle aside and dug for another.
From there, the conversation dwindled to nothing, an uncharacteristic silence settling over us like a late summer fog. The ghosts had even settled down. Except for a particularly downtrodden specter pacing under a nearby tree, the rest seemed content settling into their various routines (friendly visits to neighboring graves, a spirited game of cards over by the mausoleum, a display of ghost lights in the woods). Relaxing, even.
And that's when I opened my big fat mouth.
"I got a weird call today."
"Oh yeah?" Wendy asked. She must have been bored because this normally mundane news had her wide-eyed.
"My mother's hospice worker."
"What?" Gil twisted in his chair to face me. "Hospice? She's dying? You never even talk about her. I thought she'd already kicked it."
"Yeah, right?" Wendy muttered.
The dead are so sympathetic. If you're looking for an honest opinion, and don't want any handholding or softeners, this is the crowd for you. Not that we're auditioning for friends, just now.
"Nope. She's still alive. The doctors say she's in the end stages of stomach cancer; it's pretty much spread everywhere. Been at the hospice for a few weeks now. Apparently, it's not pretty, nor is she." Inside or out, I thought.
"Yeah." The truth was, I wasn't feeling any pain about it. Ethel Ellen Frazier had been a rotten mother, wife, and human being. You name it. Now, she was rotting inside. Ironic? Harsh? Sure, but she'd earned it. Every wince of pain, bout of vomiting, and bloody toilet bowl—the caller had gone into some unnecessary specifics.
Let me give you a little "for instance."
When I was young, Ethel convinced me—through months of badgering and ridicule—that I could benefit from a gym membership. Dad tried to talk her out of it, but like always, he had no say. So, off we went to Happy's Gym and Pool. Happy was just that; he had the kind of smile I could never seem to muster, broad and beaming. I think it was even real. The gym and pool were in the same room, a massive barn-like structure with the pool in the center, the equipment to the right, and the men's and women's locker rooms on the left, separated by a dry sauna. With about ten minutes left on the treadmill, I noticed a growing number of horrified expressions. I took off my headphones. Screams were coming from the sauna. Long screams. Then, choppy short bursts. And in between low gurgling moans reminiscent of the ape house at the zoo.
I scanned the room for my mother; I didn't expect to see her. She was behind closed doors. And I was out in the open, 15 years old and humiliated. Happy's smiling face was nowhere to be found, either. I suspected it was crammed firmly between my mother's thighs. But I was wrong. The security guard cleared up the mystery by opening the sauna door. There was Mom. On all fours and facing a captive audience, Happy behind her caught up inside like a shamed dog; his perpetual smile replaced by an embarrassed "O". I could see the words play across Ethel's lips, as I ran for the exit. "Shut the door, dimwit!"
Now, tell me she didn't buy herself some cancer on that day.
Did I mention how lucky I am to have friends like Wendy and Gil? I can always count on them to turn the conversation back around to ... them, and I was glad to have the heat off this time.
"Oh my God!" Wendy grabbed my arm and shook it like an impatient kid in the candy aisle. "I totally knew about this. I was talking to Madame Gloria just the other day and—"
"Here we go." Gil snatched up the bottle of McGowan and finished it off.
Madame Gloria was Wendy's telephone psychic. According to our girl, she was "moderately accurate," whatever that meant.
"Shut up, Gil. Madame Gloria said that someone was going to die and that we ..."—she pointed at Gil, herself, and me—"we would be going on a trip. A road trip."
"Jesus." I swatted her hand away. "You think she's talking about Ethel? I'll be damned if I haul my dead ass across three states for that bag of bones."
"It might be good to get some closure." Gil's face was attempting sincerity. It missed. He did succeed in pulling off a smoosh-faced version of constipated.
"Alright. So, before the two of you go all psychotherapist on me, let me tell you a few things. The reason I never talk about my mother is that she's a bitch. In fact, the last time I saw her was my high school graduation, where she blew me off to go to my ex-best friend's party. I can't say as I miss her."
Wendy waved me off. "None of that matters, anyway. Madame Gloria says we're going. It's fate."
"Yeah. It's fate." A sly smile played on Gil's lips.
"Like Hell it is." I punched his arm. "What was all that shit about breaking free from your family?"
He sneered, rubbing the spot. "What are you talking about?"
"When I first met you and you took me to see Ricardo?"
"Not ringing any bells."
"Ricardo told me that I needed to make a clean break from any living family and friends."
Ricardo Amandine had filled me in on a lot more than mere survival tactics. The club owner had become a mentor of sorts, doling out words of wisdom over drinks, shopping, and the odd kill. He was hot as hell, but as is the rule with male zombies, totally asexual. Shame.
"True," Gil said. "But this is different. Your mother's gonna die, anyway. And look at poor Wendy. Don't her feelings count?" He gestured to the other chair.
Wendy's lips pursed into a pathetic pout. She was even batting her eyes.
He continued. "She's totally bored. Would a road trip be so bad?"
I imagined dirty rest-stop bathrooms, rows of trailers substituting for motels, a general lack of shopping opportunities. A zombie has certain needs. The upside? Cute country folk have cute country flavors.
Wendy nodded. "What were you planning to do about the situation?"
"I thought I'd pretend I'd never gotten the call. Denial's my friend, and all."
"Yeah, okay. Just say you'll think about it. Please?"
"Fine. I'll think about it."
I lit up a cigarette; the smoke caught on the thinnest of breezes and spun off like cursive. The trail stretched off toward the single ghost who was still interested in our presence. He stomped through the haze, passed us and then stopped about ten feet away, leaning against a rather confusing headstone of a gargoyle eating a hoagie—or was that a salmon?
"I've been meaning to talk to Hans about making me some of those," Wendy said. She was pointing at the black-papered cigarette dangling from my lips.
"I'll ask him to make you some. Any particular colors, or outfits you're trying to match?"
The ghost started coughing. Expansive rattling coughs. He must have wanted attention, as he never looked away. So dramatic. "It's not gonna kill ya, buddy!" I yelled. He scowled.
Wendy disregarded the exchange and continued. "An assortment would be great. Only no orange. I look horrible in orange."
"Tell me about it. Remember that track jacket you kept trying to wear out in public. You looked like a road worker. I was fully prepared to club you."
"Oh yeah," she said, as though I'd brought up some long-lost treasure. "Where'd I put that?"
I shrugged. The truth was, Wendy hadn't put the track jacket anywhere. I'd snuck it out of her hall closet while Mama was putting her face on and promptly dumped it in the trash chute. I was doing her a favor, really. She looked like a big pumpkin in that puffy satin piece of shit.
Gil adjusted his butt in the chair. He'd taken note of our visitor. "Is that ghost eavesdropping?"
"I can't have anyone, or thing, fucking up my shit. Not tonight. Markham's not a flexible guy."
"Maybe he thinks you need a third judge of your vampire making—"
"Vampires?" The ghost choked the words out from over my shoulder. I staggered to the side to avoid any spectral germs or whatever. "I can't stand me no friggin' vampires. Piss on 'em. They should all rot in iron boxes."
"That's a little harsh," Wendy commented.
"Harsh?" The ghost spit a glob of violet-hued mush at Wendy's feet. "I don't know 'bout that. Seein's they're the one's suckin' people dry. I'll say it again. Piss on 'em."
Up close, the ghost looked like a vagrant. His face was all scruff surrounding a nose the size of a kosher dill, his eyes obscured by thick tufts of brow hair. Dirt clung to his ethereal form in spots, as though even death couldn't hide the residue of boxcar or alley dumpster. There was even a scent in the air, pungent and sour like milk gone to clot.
Excerpted from Road Trip of the Living Dead by MARK HENRY Copyright © 2009 by Mark Henry. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
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.
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Review by Jen: I was excited to have the opportunity to get an advance copy of this book when Mark and I were setting up his promo on the blog. Urban Fantasy is right up the alley of books I enjoy reading. But unfortunately I had trouble getting through the book, only finishing it last night. Don't get me wrong, the book wasn't bad... in fact, I found the premise intriguing. Just something about it didn't agree with me. Part of it could be the language and a lot of it was the gore. And I found the footnotes (yes, footnotes in fiction) to be overused and often distracting. But I think the turn off for me was Amanda. I have to like the main characters in the book to enjoy it and more often than not I couldn't like Amanda. I didn't enjoy her sense of humor and snarkiness. And that made for a rough read. This is the second book of Amanda's memoirs, following Happy Hour of the Damned. I admit that I felt like I was always a step behind because I haven't read the first book in the series... and recommend that if you're going to try these books, going in order is probably the way to go.
We are six months after the end of Happy Hour of the Damned, and everyone has pretty much moved on since the zombie outbreaks. Gil has started his own Resurrection business, making money turning people undead. While waiting for a client of Gills, recently deceased wealthy-rich man, to rise from the grave Amanda mentions to Wendy and Gil she received a call from her mothers hospice care nurse saying her mother is in ending stages of stomach cancer. With the rising of the new vampire things start to go seriously wrong. A ghost who hates vampires does something to the newly birthing vampire as he is breaking from the earth. Markham is now pissed (ha ha...) and wants a refund and threatens to kill Gil. But Gil hopes a few days away will calm him to the point of talking and not killing. Leaving town for a road trip to Amanda's mom's, the crew goes ~ some wanting and willing, and one dreading it. Oh this road trip is a tragic comedy of events. But we are with a group of meat eating undead here and there are crazy happenings with the crew as they are chased through the country to Amanda's dieing moms. Fun. As the trip starts off as a way to get away from troubles awaiting in town, the start to think they might be being followed. But then when they think they've lost their stalkers other events take place and we meet new characters that being a new twist to the story and new destination stops in the road trip. All stops end in a wild happening. And the humor like in Happy Hour. We learn more of Amanda's upbringing through her memories of her mom while meeting new characters that fit, and don't fit, into the group. There are new men and women. And each finds their own place here, if they have one. Amanda is the great sassy character I remembered her to be. Wendy seemed to be not as active for me in this book. But we do meet some new characters which I enjoyed, Honey and Scott. I love the connections the feel with a few of the characters. Nice! But, there's a murder mystery too! Not knowing who is doing the murders and working on the suspects. So, who is killing these people? Which ones will end up lunch meat? You'll have to read to find out.
This book continues the adventures of Amanda Feral, undead socialite. I have heard that this is what Sex in the City would have been like if the four women had fallen down dead and got back up again. It delivers at that level, but it also delivers at a more base level. I think every person loves to see the person who is brutally honest from time to time - even if that person is just flat out rude occasionally. I mean, why else would anyone like Simon on American Idol? Amanda is that with more bite - both figurative and literal. She is a zombie after all, and a girl has to eat. Add in the fact that all of these characters are damaged in some of the most delicious ways, it leads to a cornucopia of messed up psyches. Trust in the fact that this group will definitely put the fun in dysfunctional. If you are a fan of brutality in both your humor and your action, then this will be one fun trip for both you and the Seattle Undead Socialites from the mind of Mark Henry.
I did not even get half way through. The writing is poor and the story was uninteresting to me. The author does not know how to flesh out a story, in my opinion.
This was a fun, fast read by an author I really enjoy. But....I had a major issue with the author's overuse of footnotes. Mark made such liberal use of footnotes in order to make sarcastic comments that it sort of ruined the story for me. One or two might have been funny, but he used so many that they became majorly annoying. Do we really need a biting comment on practically every page? Amanda was fun in the first book, Happy Hour of the Damned, but not quite as amusing in this one. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood, but she seemed too snarky this time around. Things struck me as more forced between her, Wendy, and Gil, and their interaction didn't flow as smoothly. Still a fun read, but not as much fun as expected. Gave it a 3 out of 5 as I felt it was just okay.
Amanda Feral and the gang (Gil and Wendy) are back and hungrier than ever. Amanda has received a letter informing her that her Mommy Dearest is about to kick the bucket. Knowing Amanda and her heart of gold, she decides to toss the letter in the trash. Meanwhile, Gil has started up a new business "Luxury Resurrection" for the undead-to-be who can afford to rise in style. Perhaps, there ought to be a better-business-bureau for the undead because Gil totally screws up and pisses off the gansta vamp. Needing to flee and split town on the double, the zombies and the vamp decide Amanda's mom couldn't cash in her chips at a better time and set off on their roap trip. They meet interesting characters during their trip. From scabby vampire leftovers, to revenge of the cleavers to werewolf stalkers to the horrors of Wal-Mart apparel; this book never missed a beat. I swear, this book has some of the most inventive and funniest zombie scences I've ever read. I highly recommend this book and the rest of the series. I also look forward to book three- Battle of the Network Zombies due out March 2010.
This is no club opening. Zombie Amanda Feral, gal pal Wendy, and vamp cohort Gil are on the road, making a mad dash away from the newly-vamped gangster who is out to end Gil's unlife. Facing such savage threats as werewolf thugs, vengeance seeking girls with guns, overly-polite cultists, and K-Mart shopping, the gang makes their way to the deathbed of Amanda's mother. Amanda's not interested in closure, but she wouldn't mind making sure her Mommy Dearest is ushered off into the next world permanently. Besides, what better way to let a gangster cool his heels than flee town? But of course, things are never that simple, and we lucky readers get to delve not only into Amanda's past (showing some depth beneath that shallow exterior), but get taken along for the chaos of the road trip of an after-lifetime. Read my full review at http://www.flamesrising.com/road-trip-living-dead-review/
The second installment of the Amanda Feral series finds her hightailing it out of Seattle, with Wendy and Gil in tow. New characters take us to new heights. Giving us the ride of our lives, but not hers cuz shes already DEAD!!!On a trip to make peace with her mother Amanda makes a few stops along the way.This book is pee in your pants funny as are all of Henry's books, and frankly I wouldn't have it any other way! Loved it.
In Seattle nightlife lover Amanda Feral wishes American had more of a fashions sense especially those people she dines on when she eats their brains; though if they understood fashion, she might not use them as dessert. The zombie fashion hound learns her abusive mother Ethel is dying so she decides to pay her respects to the wicked witch of the northwest. She persuades her friend zombie Wendy Miller to go with her to Rapid City, South Dakota, home of the fashion-challenged and mommy meanest.
The two zombiettes decide to stay in town for one more night before the trek to mommy meanest. However, their friend gay vampire Gil angers a strip club owner, making it imperative he leave town immediately. The trio flees as werewolves give chase while Amanda¿s pickups seem to lose their heads, but their biggest fear is the shopping horde at Kmart.
This is a wild zany bawdy urban horror thriller (see Happy Hour of the Damned) starring no heroes. The story line is fast-paced with plenty of graphic blood, guts, and sh*t letting. The road warriors are a crude but fun bunch while the tale needs to carry two warnings: don¿t eat while reading this novel and cover your genitals with armor at all times. Sort of placing Divine of Pink Flamingoes fame in a George Romero movie as Mark Henry is over the Rocky Mountains with this wild ROAD TRIP OF THE LIVING DEAD.