You Want Fries with That? Book Review of “Gil’s All Fright Diner”

Tired, hungry, and rolling along U.S. Route 6 in rural Pennsylvania-a hankering for a black cup of coffee, a piping hot roast beef sandwich, and a warm piece of pie with vanilla ice cream melting around the edges, makes my stomach sit up and beg. I pull up next to a porcelain jewel known in these parts as the Wellsboro Diner, and make my way inside, taking a seat at the lunch counter. A broad-shouldered woman, name tag labeled “Holly”, with a long, brown braid down her back is flipping burgers and grilling onions in a stained apron, smiles.

“What can I get you?”

Ten minutes later I’m shoveling in creamy potatoes smothered in gravy when I notice that Holly’s smile has disappeared.

“Aw, damn it. Not tonight.”

I quickly sneak a look over my left shoulder, and see a shambling corpse pressed against the glass door, staring hungrily at me.

“Don’t you worry. I’ll handle this,” Holly drawls, as she pulls a double-barreled shotgun from below the counter, takes aim, and squeezes the trigger, and a spray of bone, dust, and cadaver beetles covers a display case filled with pie and pastry.

“That zombie sure is a persistent little feller. Keeps coming round trying to sell me calendars of the Grand Canyon. Seems like he’d realize this is home of the Pine Creek Gorge. Hey, you still hungry? Leave room for pie?”

Welcome to my next book review, Gil’s All Fright Diner, where zombie attacks are a regular occurrence and you don’t even want to know what’s lurking in the freezer. Duke and Earl are just your seemingly average blue-collar guys rambling through the American Southwest in their old pickup truck.

They’re just passing through Rockwood County when they stop at a diner for a quick bite to eat. They aren’t planning on sticking around, but the truck is riding on the spare and the gas gauge is chasing empty. So when the diner’s owner offers them one hundred bucks to take care of the persistent zombie problem, Duke and Earl jump at the offer. After all, Duke’s a werewolf and Earl’s a vampire, and this looks right up their supernatural alley.

Course, those of you familiar with zombie infestations know that the lumbering undead are usually just the tip of the paranormal iceberg, and that’s the case in Rockwood. Seems someone is out to bring on Armageddon and more than willing to raise a little hell to accomplish it. Soon, Duke and Earl are running into otherworldly complications-such as zombie poultry, a possessed magic eight-ball, and the horrifying, occult power of Pig Latin.

This book won an Alex Award in 2006. The Alex Awards are given every year to ten books written for adults that have a special appeal to kids 12 to 18. I found this fun story packed with warped humor and action, but also the scattered four-letter word, some casual teenage sex (not graphic), and a little blood and gore (occasionally graphic). It’s all light-hearted, but a few adults may find it a little mature for your average twelve or thirteen year old.

The horror genre can take itself pretty seriously, but this fast-paced comic horror satire is sure to be an enjoyable quick read for those who enjoy Douglas Adams or Christopher Moore. Rumor has it that the movie rights have been sold for Gil’s, and that it’s currently in pre-production. So make sure you save room for popcorn and pie…

Apple sauce? Or Coleslaw? Comment and let me know!

Check out these other fun reads by A. Lee Martinez:
Chasing the Moon
Divine Misfortune
In the Company of Ogres

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