Audiobook Review: Gil’s All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez

29 05 2012

Gil’s All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez

Read by Fred Berman

Macmillan Audio

Length: 6 Hrs 48 Min

Genre: Supernatural Horror

Quick Thoughts: People looking for a unique, clever and highly entertaining supernatural tale will find Gil’s All Fright Diner fits the bill. It’s a great change of pace book for when you’re stuck in a bit of a rut, and are looking for something which is simply pure entertainment to clear your palate.

Grade: B+

I think we as a society tend to stereotype our monsters. All too often our vampires are displayed as eccentric and fascinating, with more than a touch of sexiness. They are pale and mysterious, often with European roots, and a seductive tone. Also, unless they are teenage boys who sparkle, they tend to be evil. While I can accept this for the most part, sometimes I look for a bit of diversity in my monsters. We are living in a society that teaches us to embrace our different cultural heritages. We shouldn’t fear that which is not like us. So, shouldn’t we celebrate diversity in our monster fiction? While, in essence, vampires and werewolves are monsters, can they not also be heroes? I feel it’s time for us to remove the stigma from the word Monster. There are many things that may be hiding in our closets or under our beds. When we walk down a dark alley, wouldn’t running into a petty criminal or rabid raccoon be just as frightening as encountering a Wendigo or chupacabra? We like to put the label of monster on our most heinous criminals, yet wouldn’t this be like mythical creatures labeling their evil doers humans? We also place such a value on beauty, while ogres and ghouls are considered monsters, other mythological creatures like unicorns and fairies are heralded, despite their potential for devastation. Should we really be judging mythological beings based on their looks, or what they like to eat? Well, maybe if what they like to eat is us… but I digress. Monsters, maybe it’s time to rise up and… well, maybe I need to think about this a bit more.

Gil’s All Fright Diner introduces us to two weary travelers named Duke and Earl who are just looking for a quick bite to eat before heading back on the road. Yet, they are not surprised while eating some of Loretta’s pie to find themselves under attack by zombies. You see, according to Earl, they live under the Law of Anomalous Phenomena Attraction where supernatural events are drawn so supernatural creatures, and Earl is a Vampire and Duke a werewolf. Gil’s All Fright Diner reads like a southern fried comedic version of Being Human. Duke and Earl are instantly likeable and the antitheses to the mysterious emo-monsters that all too often occupy our supernatural horror tales. These two everyman stay on to help the robust Loretta solve her zombie problem, as well as the other strange events plaguing the town of Rockwood, before the local Sherriff, Marshall Kopp is forced to close down Loretta’s business. So, quick aside, I totally had one of those embarrassing, "is he crazy" audiobook moments when snorting out loud when discovering the local Sheriff’s name was Marshall Cop. In fact, Gil’s All Fright Diner is full of clever comedic gems, as well as lots of action, a touch of romance, and zombie cows. It’s sometimes hard to remember the dark Lovecraftian, potentially apocalyptic danger the Rockwell is in, because of all the great characters and hilarious moments the book is full of. Yet, Martinez pulls it all together with world bending, unconventional ending that doesn’t fail to thrill. People looking for a unique, clever and highly entertaining supernatural tale will find Gil’s All Fright Diner fits the bill. It’s a great change of pace book for when you’re stuck in a bit of a rut, and are looking for something which is simply pure entertainment to clear your palate.

I really enjoyed Fred Barman’s performance in Gil’s All Fright Diner, and this was definitely a performance. Berman hit’s all the right notes and you can tell he just goes all out in bringing this tale to life. In fact, I would say that it is worth the price of admission just to hear Berman’s Zombie Cow moan. It is an audiobook highlight for me that I won’t soon forget. Berman handles all the characters well, bringing about the distinctiveness in their personalities in the voices he crafts for them. He paces the narrative crisply, bringing the weird and wild aspects of Rockwood to light. This is the third audiobook I’ve listened to from A. Lee Martinez, and it won’t be my last. Each of his novels has such a distinctive tone and unique, wonderfully drawn characters that translate so well into the audio format with the right narrator, and here, Berman was definitely an excellent choice.

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One response

29 05 2012
BarkLessWagMore

This book has been staring at me for months but I always seem to pick up something else. Now I want to save it to read as a mood changer after I’ve read something too dark and depressing or maybe I’ll just find the audio version!

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