Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Vampire a Day: Gil's All-Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez

A werewolf, a vampire and a ghost ruin a Goth girl’s plan to open a portal for the old gods to usher in a new world of darkness.


This is a very, very funny horror story that uses all the tropes of urban fantasy and spins them in a redneck kind of way. The vibe is one part ZOMBIELAND and one part FROM DUSK TIL DAWN with a big dash of DUCK DYNASTY/HERE COMES HONEY BOO BOO thrown in. In other words, although the characters include vampires and werewolves and ghosts and zombies (and zombie cows), the backdrop is pure regional.

It’s a really loopy and off the wall and extremely entertaining as a book. Martinez really does urban fantasy well and he and Christopher Moore seem to have this branch of the genre all to themselves.

The characters are all fully realized and recognizable human beings, even when they’re undead or ghosts or weres or just hapless minions of the manipulative Tammy/Lilith.


The relationship between Earl(the vampire) and Duke (the wereworlf)  is believable and often hilarious. (Earl likes to get in a few extra minutes of sleep in the evening and Duke enjoys rousting him out of his steamer trunk “bed.” Martinez is terrific at filling in the matter-of-fact practicalities of being a vampire in a small town (“You’d better watch what you eat,” Duke cautions Earl and hands him some “hamburger juice.”) This is a world where vampires and werewolves and zombies exist and cause all kinds of problems for the humans involved. It’s a refreshing take on urban fantasy and there’s a real sense of deep mythology to the story as well.

The dialogue works well. It’s country-fried but never gets too outrageous, and fits the characters. Tammy and Chad, the mismatched teenage would-be necromancers, come across as the kind of troublemakers everyone remembers from high school—the mean girl beauty and her jock consort.

There are a few places where Martinez gets a little too whimsical, like naming his lawman Sheriff Marshall Kopp, a joke that works better on paper than it will verbally. Most of the time though, he’s wickedly on target. Fans of horror will get all of his little inside jokes and digs, and that’s part of the pleasure as well. 

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