Kensington, $15.00, ISBN 978-0-7582-2524-5
Road Trip of the Living Dead reintroduces Amanda Feral, the chi-chi zombie socialite of the spook underbelly of America. You don’t have to read Happy Hour of the Damned to understand this story, because this story has a plot that can stand alone very well and the road trip plot also cuts down the number of recurring characters to three. Nothing a new reader cannot handle, I’m sure.
This time around, Amanda’s vampire best friend Gil has started a new business – Luxury Resurrections, Inc. If you want to become a vampire, Gil will arrange, for a hefty price, of course, for you to become “resurrected” just the way you want it. When the story opens, we see that the local mob boss Richard Markham had paid Gil for the Platinum Package, which means that Gil would put Markham in a luxury hotel for a nice period of relaxation and pre-vamping counseling. Gil would also arrange for a fabulous funeral when Markham “dies”, and then arrange for Markham’s “resurrection” the way the mob boss wants it – Markham will tear himself from the grave like a horror movie monster and Gil would arrange for some hot strippers to be waiting to entertain Markham. Except, things don’t go as planned. The strippers never showed up, so Gil ropes in the not-so-pleased Amanda and her friend Wendy as substitutes. But things really do downhill when a naughty ghost happens to opt to answer the call of nature just as Markham emerges from the grave right into the line of fire, so to speak.
Absolutely humiliated, Markham swears revenge, which means a price on Gil’s head and a complete blacklist from the hottest clubs in town for poor Amanda and Wendy. With nothing better to do, Amanda decides to head back to her hometown when she learns that her mother is ill. Wendy and Gil tag along, naturally. Amanda believes that the only complication that may arise during the trip is she somehow arriving too late to find her mother dead and Amanda missing the chance to gloat as a result, but author Mark Henry isn’t letting the trio off so lightly. A young lady will be out for vengeance, blaming Amanda and her friends for the death of her brother, while Amanda encounters a hot werewolf who may or may not be a hitman hired by Markham to kill them all. Meanwhile, something strange is happening when the people they encounter begin dying or disappearing without them having anything to do with that. Wendy’s favorite psychic may or may not be involved (don’t ask). What is going here? Why, it’s the Road Trip of the Living Dead, of course.
This one is similar in terms of humor and characterization to the previous book, so if you have a blast with the previous book, you will most likely have a fun time with this one. If Amanda tested your patience in the previous book, however, I have better warn you that she is the same character here, so be careful, heh. Mark Henry has a twisted sense of humor in that he doesn’t just add in plenty of gore humor, the story can also take a turn for the truly macabre. I have a great time with this story and I especially love how Amanda’s mother turns out in the end. Poor Amanda, she’s really not having a good time in this story, heh.
If there is a weakness in this story, it’s how Gil and especially Wendy are wasted in the story. These two may as well not be present, given how they end up having little to do apart from providing the one-liners occasionally. Poor Wendy, especially, ends up in the same sad situation that she found herself in the previous book. If I were her, I’d seriously reconsider her friendship with Amanda because that relationship seems to be jinxed or something. The story would have been better, I feel, if Amanda has gone on the trip alone to encounter those amusingly twisted and wacky characters along the way without being encumbered by Wendy and Gil.
I also wish that the events at the climax have been drawn out a little longer. As they are, those scenes feel rushed and I’m still bewildered as to what actually happened back then and whether those charmingly creepy homicidal Stepford kids are really dead or will be back for a much-deserved recurring role in future books.
Still, Road Trip of the Living Dead is more of the same zany kind of gore humor from Mark Henry that I have a great time reading.