I love urban fiction where the main characters are snarky and the sarcastic. I like when the humor is mixed in with the horror and seriousness, but not when it is bolted on. It needs to be blended with the elements instead of "put a funny scene here" type of writing. It doesn't hurt when there is something interesting besides vampires in the story. And this novel gave me everything I wanted in that type of book.
Happy Hour of the Damned by Mark Henry is one of those stories. Written from a single point of view throughout the story. Actually, its a first person point of view with footnotes scattered everywhere. Even though I'll admit footnotes smack of academic papers, Mark uses them throughout the story very effectively (baring chapter 8 which used * instead of proper numbers). In fact, probably like most readers, I find myself reading the footnotes when I get to the page, just because they are as entertaining as the rest of the story. Actually, I read them first, then read the page.
The characters of the world are interesting, but I wouldn't say they got very much depth in story, but there are a few hints here and there of more. The gay vampire was one of my least favorite characters, mainly because he was the flattest character. On the other hand, some of the other vampires were fascinating, not only in how Mark shows their differences from humanity, but also how they deal with their own limitations. And, my favorite characters, are the evil little girls. But, I like goth lolita reapers. Can't say why, but death should wear a dress.
Which leads to cosmology. I like the limitations of the zombies, their inability to heal and therefore their desire not to damage their skin. It adds a very interesting tension to the story since two of the zombies are beautiful, but it's guaranteed to fade since they can't heal. Reminds me of Death Becomes Her.
There were a few things I didn't like about the cosmology. Two for the zombies, actually. One was the "breath" bit. I couldn't picture it and it seemed... deus ex machima-ish. I like the idea of the breath and how it could be used, just not the special effects of it in the story. The descriptions just fell flat for me.
The other was the scatological drawbacks of being a zombie. I won't go into details, but it makes sense for being dead. I just don't agree with the volume. It reminded me of the comment that all Japanse anime people are filled with high pressure blood vessels. One cut and they burst out everywhere. Same thing with the descriptions of this specific drawback. Too much out for too little in. The drawback is also scattered all over the place, but it is tied into the humor and somewhat gracefully done without turning into a fart joke every ten pages.
Didn't really mention the plot, did I? It's a decent plot, but I felt the story was more of a groundwork book with a good plot--but not what I would call great--filled with little surprises here and there. But, the real strength of the book is the personal crisis of the main character and the society of the not-normals. It explores the nature of the supernatural wonderfully, treating it with a grotesque glamor that leaves a pleasant aftertaste to the thoughts. With his style, Mark could write US Weekly for the dead and it would be just as addictive as that magazine is for Fluffy.
Overall, the story bounces back and forth between absolutely glamorous to dark and moody and back again, with more than a bit of dark humor to spice it. It brought the same joy that Undead and Unwed brought me and there is no doubt that I'll pick up the sequel the second I see it in the store.