H.J. Bennett’s debut horror novel “Franken-Fatale” is a highly entertaining, incredibly fun and wonderfully twisted tale that has something for everyone.
We’ve all dreamed about a world where death means nothing, and reanimation is the newest trend. Fresh from the reanimation chamber, we would live our lives until the next death and just return to where we left off.
Oh, you haven’t dreamt of a world like that? Well, I have. In my dream world, we would all live as we wanted — and with reckless abandon — because what did it matter? Just a few fixes here and there and some stitching, and we’re (almost) good as new, set to return to our business.
This is the type of alternate reality world that H.J. Bennett has created in her horror novel Franken-Fatale, a story of the reconditioned, semi-washed up pop-star, Rita Venus, the heroine you hate to love.
It’s a world of doctors born in the 1800s, Marilyn Monroe is still making movies, and a famous pop-star from the 80s is still almost relevant. While ‘zombie’ is not a word that is preferred, that is exactly what most of the world is. An alive, warm-blooded human is basically unheard of. So it’s a complete surprise, and something very new to Rita, when she meets one in an act of drunken heroism at a Brazilian bar.
“I’m Rita Venus, baby. Being famous has its perks.”
We first meet Rita in the middle of her being murdered by a couple in a hotel room, in a threesome gone wrong. But soon she’s back in her private reanimation chamber being put back together and stitched up like nothing happened. However, her legs are fucked. What does a girl do in this predicament? She flies to Russia to shop the catwalk.
Once she’s back to (almost) new, she wonders, “Why not plan my comeback tour? But it seems that someone out there doesn’t want to let Rita be, and she yet again finds her life extinguished. Probably should take a vacation and rethink your life, girl!
Which brings us to Rita meeting the Warm-Blood, as they’re called, while trying to save the poor girl from unwanted, drunken advances. The novel really picks up after Rita promises to get Denver, the warm-blood, to a secret island in the Indian Ocean that’s rumored to be a sanctuary to those who still breathe and have all of their original parts. The two of them, along with an undead, drunk, guitar playing monkey, start the journey to the island.
But this being a horror novel, of course it doesn’t happen as smoothly as it should. In a rare, “human” moment, Rita discovers that not everybody lives their life as she does, and that to some, reanimation doesn’t come as easily — or affordably. “Wait, you have to pay to be reanimated? I sure as fuck don’t,” she thinks, after discovering that not everybody gets a second, or third, or even tenth chance at life.
From there, it just gets crazier — including death and dismemberment, a real-life serial killer who is finally caught hundreds of years after his reign of terror, and an undead pirate. There’s also prostitutes, orgies, blood and more blood, a doctor named Victor, and even…well, maybe you should read the book to find out just how this ends.
Franken-Fatale is the debut novel by H.J. Bennett, an artist also known as Candy Cougar, who has her hand in a multitude of different mediums. When she’s not writing (the play Blood and Baguettes is also hers), she can be found studying stop-motion animation, prop building, tattooing and even special effects makeup, as well as photography and human psychology. She credits art to restoring her life after the devastating death of her father and a life-saving spinal surgery.
Franken-Fatale is a fast read that is jam packed with pop-culture, blood, guts and death.
These are all among some of my favorite things, and I highly implore you to check this out. It’s a fresh take on a genre that is zombie saturated. You can find the novel on Amazon.com. You can also check out Bennett’s artwork on her website and even request a custom commission.